Daily Management Review

Complete Computer System For Self Driving Cars Launched By Qualcomm


A computing system has been developed by the chip manufacturer Qualcomm Inc that is designed to meet the needs of computing for autonomous vehicles, which the company said, would take care of everything necessary in self driving vehicles – from lane controls to full self-driving. The company said that it has plans to bring the system on the road by 2023.
The company has named the computing system as Snapdragon Ride and is the first attempt by the company to make inroads into developing a complete computing system for autonomous vehicles.
It has been over a decade that chips for the auto sector are being made by the San Diego-based Qualcomm which is best as the biggest mobile phone chip supplier of the world. However the activities of the company in the auto sector was primarily focused on development of the modem chips that are designed to connect vehicles to the internet as well as chips for the infotainment systems that power screens inside vehicles.
While billions have been spent by rivals such as Intel Corp and Nvidia Corp on acquisitions supplying major automakers for autonomous driving as they have jumped into the self driving industry, Qualcomm has invested money and time for years in research and development of self-driving technology near its headquarters in complete silence.
Its efforts at the development of powerful processors that consume little electricity and generate little heat has been significantly helped by the expertise and knowledge it has gained in building in the mobile phone processor business, said Patrick Little, the senior vice president and general manager of Qualcomm’s automotive business.
While there is no need for fans or liquid cooling systems to prevent them from overheating, the new computing systems developed by Qualcomm can fit in one hand. For electric vehicles, this quality of lower power consumption by the computing systems assumes significance as the total power in such vehicles also needs to be used for the drive train that pushes the vehicles forward.
“Many of these cars have a supercomputer in the back. It looks like your kid’s gaming PC,” Little said in a media interview. “Now imagine you’re putting that in the trunk of an electric vehicle. Now your range anxiety is just doubled.”
The designing of the new computer system by Qualcomm also has the flexibility of easily being scaled up or down as required by automakers as it had broken down the new system into pieces of hardware and software. Simpler tasks like lane-control can be done with the help of a smaller version of the computer while full self-driving activity can be undertaken using total system. Its own set of self-driving software algorithms have been developed by Qualcomm by using test vehicles in San Diego, Little said. It will be up to the automakers to use the algorithms or not.
“If they came to us with their own software stack, or even somebody else’s software stack, we’re happy to say we’ll help you” adapt it to Qualcomm’s hardware, he said.