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Autonomous Vehicles

Published on December 29th, 2017 | by Nicolas Zart

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Qualcomm Self-Driving Tests Start In California

December 29th, 2017 by  


Qualcomm is not sitting idly as the electric vehicle (EV) and autonomous vehicle (AV) revolution marches onward. The company has been active with inductive wireless charging and is also present in the AV field, with the Californian Department of Motor Vehicle recently giving it a go-ahead to test self-driving cars.Qualcomm Self-Driving

From chipsets to wireless charging to AV, Qualcomm is a company that covers a lot of technology. Its latest foray into mobility includes testing its self-driving technology on Californian roads. Following NvidiaWaymo, Baidu, and many others, Qualcomm just got the DMV’s okay to test AVs on its San Diego County roads. It appears to have one vehicle and three drivers for this testing.

Qualcomm Self-Driving

Qualcomm has successfully maneuvered the rejection of a potential $100 billion acquisition by Broadcom this past November. The proposal was rejected by Qualcomm’s board. Qualcomm is also acquiring NXP, a company offering various automotive components.

Using Qualcomm’s 9150 C-V2X chipsets, AVs can get a 360-degree non-line-of-sight imaging of their surroundings. The chipset also allows for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications as well as communicating with the transportation infrastructure.

Qualcomm, the Multi-Approach Technological Company

Qualcomm is a well-diversified company and I still miss my 1990s Qualcomm cellphone that featured a nifty recorder capacity, well ahead of what smartphones now offer. Since then, Qualcomm diversified into other industries, relying on its chipset design engineering.

Qualcomm Self-Driving

At the 26th Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition (EVS26), I met with Lord Drayson’s impressive B12/69 EV racer and its use of the Qualcomm Halo inductive charging system. It featured a practical and elegant solution to the inductive charging problem, that of misalignment. In order to have the best efficiency possible, an inductive system needs to be placed perfectly above the base system. What this means is that a vehicle with an inductive ring onboard must be placed exactly above the base ring and form a perfect electromagnetic field (EMF) funnel. Qualcomm Halo’s solution was to simply put three base rings and one on the vehicle, thus widening the EMF funnel and allowing the vehicle to park close to its base center. The company proved its efficiency by charging at 125 kW, sufficient for most home applications today.

Qualcomm Self-Driving

Qualcomm Joins The Rank of AV Companies

Drayson Racing and Qualcomm team for wireless EV chargingToday’s AV announcement from Qualcomm means the company is taking the lead in self-driving cars — well, along with Waymo, Nvidia, Tesla, GM, Ford, Baidu, Daimler, BMW, etc.

Nakul Duggal, Qualcomm’s vice president of product management for automotive, told CNBC: “We certainly expect to be a key player in the autonomous space,”

The chip also means that it can work with other AV chips to improve safety. So far, the test trials will be conducted in San Diego County using Ford vehicles, but Duggal said similar tests will be conducted in Michigan, China, Germany, Italy, and Japan.

A healthy industry involves choice and competition. Although three’s a crowd, we would like to see more companies test driving AVs on the road today. That would make them into a thriving industry. The dangers of having two or three companies competing in a single industry are well known, whether we look at the telecommunication world or the mass media landscape. So who else is picking up the AV challenge?

Qualcomm Self-Driving


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About the Author

Nicolas was born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, but it wasn't until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Eager to spread the news of that full torque, he was invited to write for various CleanTech outlets in 2007. Since then, his passion led to cover renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets both in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. He particularly enjoys communicating about the new e-mobility technology and what it means to us as a society. Today he focuses most of his writing effort on CleanTechnica, a global online outlet that covers the world of electric vehicles and renewable energy. His favorite tagline is: "There are more solutions than obstacles."



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