The Auto industry is going through huge digital transformation. A key driver is the shift to electric vehicles (EVs).
“Electrification means a brand-new chassis, an EV chassis. And on top of that, what you’re running is a digital chassis. And this represents a huge opportunity for automakers to differentiate,” says Stefan Marxreiter, VP, Business Development, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies,
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Marxreiter to provide some background into Qualcomm’s positioning in the automotive sector.
Marxreiter: Qualcomm is the world’s leading wireless technology innovator and the driving force behind the development, launch and expansion of 5G, working closely with the ecosystem. We invent foundational technologies that transform how the world connects, computes, and communicates.
We have been involved in the automotive industry for over 20 years and remain the current number one semiconductor supplier in wireless vehicle connectivity and telematics. With a long-standing focus on R&D, we have invested over US$70 billion in cumulative research and development spend and have more than 36 years of innovation in chipsets, software, services and integrated platform solutions, this cumulative learning and investment continues to drive our work within the automotive industry.
Today we work with 22 of the world’s top 25 automakers, plus most Tier 1 suppliers to the automotive industry, enabling the industry to harness the potential of the mobility revolution powered by 5G and artificial intelligence (AI). These technologies represent the underlying fabric for tomorrow’s more connected, intelligent transportation system.
Qualcomm is focused on 4 key areas:
- Telematics for low-latency 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, C-V2X and Cloud Connectivity
- Advanced Digital Cockpit platforms for 4K displays, premium audio, streaming entertainment and contextual safety features.
- Scalable ADAS solutions like our Snapdragon Ride platform for robust, high-performance safety systems and autonomous driving.
- And, finally, our Car-to-Cloud Platform is designed to help bring new in-car experiences and services to drivers, along with new business models and revenue opportunities to automakers, content providers and application developers.
AI: What are the developments with 5G?
Marxreiter: 5G adoption is accelerating at a much faster rate than we’ve seen with previous generations. Globally, over 160 operators have launched commercial 5G networks in 65+ countries/territories with 270+ additional operators investing to deploy 5G.
Specifically looking at Europe – we are really leading the charge, with 75+ operators in 30 European countries/territories have launched commercial 5G networks, with 65+ additional operators in Europe investing to deploy the technology. Europe is an epicentre for technology R&D leadership, and we are incredibly proud to be part of it.
Automakers want their brand identity to be central, especially in the interior of the vehicle. That is why you are seeing bigger displays coming in, you’re seeing many, many features, whether they are safety features, or consumer ecosystem features brought in into the vehicle. Real time maps, music, entertainment, all of that is coming into the car.
The vision is that in the long run the car is going to become a place where you’re going to be consuming a lot of content. It’s basically going to become a hub where a lot of activity is conducted so there is a lot of interest, of course from the automakers, but also from the entire ecosystem to make sure that the cockpit becomes something that everybody can be a part of.
AI: How do you help OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers to meet some of the major challenges facing the auto industry?
Marxreiter: Qualcomm provides fundamental building-block technologies to support the transformation of the automotive industry in line with these shifting demands and priorities – and the move to a digital chassis.
As the industry continues to push towards seamless driving experiences from connected vehicles to autonomous driving, shared vehicle ownership and electrification, we leverage our mobile, compute and systems engineering expertise to deliver next-gen automotive technologies for telematics, digital chassis, and cockpit, C-V2X, ADAS and Car-to-Cloud solutions.
Our industry-leading Snapdragon Automotive Cockpit Platforms deliver personalised in-vehicle experiences with leading telematics and digital cockpit capabilities. This enables us to work with automotive businesses by supporting multi-gigabit 4G LTE and 5G connectivity and providing C-V2X solutions to improve traffic efficiency and road safety.
Furthermore, new technologies and customer demands are shaking up supply chains and disrupting existing business models. For example, C-V2X technologies will be an important technology for vehicles to communicate with each other and everything around them – designed to support safer, more autonomous vehicles of the future. 5G will allow vehicles to share rich, real-time data, supporting fully autonomous driving experiences, supporting improved road safety and traffic efficiency.
AI: Where are the new revenue streams for OEMs?
Marxreiter: Automakers have opportunities to sustain their revenues and profits with new recurring revenue and subscription models. They are using new technologies – in particular, high speed wireless connectivity – to deliver new features and services that add value and boost customer retention. As well as recurring revenues, these services enhance the driver and passenger experience – whether it is via in-car infotainment; remote monitoring; over the air (OTA) maintenance and upgrades; navigation and real-time traffic congestion updates; or in-car access to third-party subscriber content and media, like music, films, or TV.
In the context of electrification and the digital chassis, our connective capabilities through C-V2X and 5G allow vehicles to connect to the cloud (and 4G/5G connectivity). But to do this, automakers require advanced semiconductors to change the way that the car architecture is being set up. By consolidating a lot of the functionality that was present in past vehicles, spread across many different smaller controllers, the digital chassis is bringing this together into single larger blocks. There is a tremendous amount of software that is going into cars, and that will continue to evolve, we are proud to be working and expanding the number of expert companies we work within this space.
Qualcomm is working closely with its customers to design and bring to market secure, connected, intelligent and location-aware next generation vehicles. Our 4G and 5G automotive platform solutions are enabling automakers worldwide to harness connected services to meet the increasing demand from consumers for safer, greener, richer driving experiences.
What are the most exciting C-V2X trials/deployments taking place now, and what is Qualcomm’s role?
Marxreiter: In the future your car will connect and communicate with everything around it – other cars, road infrastructure, along with data and services hosted in the cloud. Everything on the road will connect with everything else on it and around it.
C-V2X communications are the foundation for this connectivity. This technology can complement other car sensors, such as cameras, radar and LIDAR, helping the car “see around corners”, detecting pedestrians or other cars when line-of-sight is obstructed by buildings or other large vehicles. This always-on, real-time interconnectedness between vehicles and their surroundings enhances safety for all road users.
C-V2X also has the potential to manage more coordinated traffic flows, by feeding data to analytics platforms to harmonise traffic speeds and reduce congestion on roads and in cities – reducing emissions at the same time.
Qualcomm is already taking steps to make this vision into a reality. Anas SpA set a new European record with an 80Km stretch of road, on the 51 Road in Cortina, which represents the largest single-route coverage with C-V2X technology in Europe and paves the way for the advancement of autonomous driving. Anas will equip Road Side Unit (RSUs) with C-V2X solutions powered by Qualcomm technology. This commercial deployment has been set up to monitor traffic flows and identify incidents and bottlenecks as they happen, together with their location, before transmitting this information in real time to other connected vehicles in the area.
AI: How do you see artificial intelligence being rolled out in the auto industry?
Marxreiter: At the intersection of the mobility revolution lie 5G and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, which represent the underlying fabric for tomorrow’s more connected, intelligent transportation system.
If the engine is the heart of the vehicle, then artificial intelligence (AI) is its brain, which processes and analyses the surrounding environment.
The transportation industry is actively learning and combining its new way of detecting the environment, in addition to classical compute vision processing. AI creates infinite opportunities for continuous improvement in automotive technology, and we believe it will have a strong impact on Smart Transportation and continued evolution of in-vehicle experiences for driver and passenger personalisation and contextual safety.
AI is the underlying tool to enable capabilities like in-car virtual assistance, natural voice control, language understanding and adaptive human-machine interfaces to make these experiences happen. The highest AI requirements relate to the ultimate goal of reaching autonomy levels L4 and L5.
AI: What needs to happen to reach full autonomy, and what is the role of the digital chassis in this?
Marxreiter: Autonomous vehicles rely on non-stop sensory input from a range of on-board sources – including radar, lidar, and cameras – plus connectivity with smart infrastructure such as signs and RSUs. Vehicles also need to be able to send and receive over the air updates via car to cloud communications.
Many of these interactions will rely on cellular networks and C-V2X. These data interactions with other vehicles, road signage, pedestrians and the cloud are here today, and will continue to be crucial in the autonomous age. Using this data from their surroundings, autonomous vehicles will make real-time decisions and subtle control adjustments as they make progress through a scene.
Making sense of this continuous flow of data from multiple sources – externally and from the vehicle’s own sensors – is a significant challenge. Autonomous vehicles need immensely powerful on-board compute capabilities to process all this complexity and act on it instantaneously.
At Qualcomm we are focused on providing high-precision positioning. Our technologies are designed to combine GNSS, accelerometer or inertial sensors and computer vision to cost-effectively provide highly accurate, reliable location data. This helps an autonomous vehicle understand where it is in relation to other road users and potential obstacles at all times.
Handling time-sensitive decision processes in the car requires low latency data exchange with external sources such as surrounding objects as well as access to edge compute capabilities. 5G offers such time-transparent communication, enabling local compute engines to access remote sources with low latency and exchange data in an ultra-reliable manner.
New warning systems based on data exchanges between vehicles can be realised allowing communication and evaluation of data to determine critical driving conditions. While classical wheel sensors can detect slippery roads, front-facing cameras can be used to detect road obstructions and problems well in advance and can inform surrounding vehicles and may even activate roadside assistance units alerting all road users.
We are excited about the innovations, new experiences and services that we will see in the future. AI and 5G connectivity will play a key role in not only the future experience of getting from point A to point B but will also enable the transformation of the entire transportation sector.