Tech giant Qualcomm signaled a strong commitment to furthering its technologies in the automotive sector at CES this year, announcing new OEM clients and the opening of an engineering software office in Berlin to support the company's European auto customers with the latest Snapdragon Digital Chassis.
“The office opening is further evidence of the company’s commitment to bring new and exciting technologies to the Automotive sector,” said Enrico Salvatori, senior vice president and president of Europe/MEA and Qualcomm Europe, in a statement.
The digital chassis is a suite of cloud-connected "platforms" which automakers can adopt in full or à la carte, and it includes: the Snapdragon Ride Platform for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving, the Auto Connectivity Platform for LTE, 5G connected services, cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and precise positioning, and the next generation of the Snapdragon Cockpit, a digital cockpit and infotainment system.
Qualcomm's integrated automotive platforms, including the digital chassis, have an order pipeline of more than $13 billion, according to the company. Snapdragon as it stands today is built off the back of Qualcomm's car-to-cloud service, announced at CES in 2020, which was the company's first product that aimed to keep cars connected to the cloud. This would allow for faster over-the-air updates and the ability to gather vehicle and usage analytics to create new revenue streams both for the company and for automaker partners.
“Qualcomm Technologies understands automakers’ needs for uniqueness and differentiation as well as the tremendous opportunity to redefine the automotive and transportation business model," said Nakul Duggal, senior vice president and general manager of automotive at Qualcomm, in a statement. “The Snapdragon Digital Chassis allows platforms to stay continually up-to-date with new capabilities after vehicle purchase, while allowing the automaker to create new features and services for enhanced customer engagement and services-based business models.”
Volvo became one of the many automakers to integrate Snapdragon into their vehicles, the companies announced on Tuesday. Volvo's upcoming fully electric SUV and Volvo EV brand Polestar's Polestar 3 SUV will both be powered by Qualcomm's digital cockpit, powered by Google's Android OS, and a suite of wireless technologies to support Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and the automaker expects to launch vehicles with these features later this year.
Honda also shared plans to bring Qualcomm's digital cockpit to its upcoming models for the first time, which it expects to be commercially available in the U.S. in the second half of 2022 and across the globe in 2023.
Renault Group announced in September its plans to integrate the digital cockpit into its Mégane E-Tech electric vehicle, but on Tuesday, the company shared plans to expand that collaboration to the entire suite of digital chassis platforms, including the connectivity platform and the Snapdragon Ride platform.
Volvo, Honda and Renault join the increasingly long list of Qualcomm Snapdragon customers, which seemed to have picked up in earnest around the time Qualcomm acquired automotive tech company Veoneer in October. Since then, Qualcomm has signed on around 40 OEMs, including BMW, GM, Hyundai, JiDu, Xpeng, NIO and WM, to integrate different Snapdragon platforms into their vehicles.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon is also enabling other companies building automotive infotainment centers to innovate. At CES, the company announced a partnership with Alps Alpine to develop a "Digital Cabin," which is powered by the Snapdragon cockpit. The cabin includes technologies such as an e-mirror that helps ameliorate blind spots by providing a peripheral view, a large ceiling display and sound zones that project noise individually to each passenger.
While most of Qualcomm's clients are opting to enhance their cockpits and infotainment systems, the company might be most bullish on its Ride platform, a system-on-a-chip (SoC) that should provide a powerful enough processor to allow for many ADAS and automated driving functions. Veoneer's Arriver self-driving software unit has only enhanced Ride, which has allowed it to compete directly with Nvidia's Drive Orin SoC, which is already being used to develop similar functionalities with customers like Cruise, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Zoox and, most recently, TuSimple.