Qualcomm Self-Driving Tests Start In California
December 29th, 2017 by Nicolas Zart
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.
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 Nvidia, Waymo, 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 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.
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 Joins The Rank of AV Companies
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?