Qualcomm, which dominates the smartphone world, today unveiled new platforms for automotive and robotics products.
At MWC Barcelona 19 (formerly known as Mobile World Congress), Qualcomm announced Snapdragon Automotive 4G and Automotive 5G platforms that feature support for C-V2X, a technology that enables vehicles to communicate with one another, as well as with other connected devices nearby; high-precision multi-frequency GPS system (HP-GNSS); and RF Front-End functionalities.
The Automotive 5G platform additionally supports 5G dual SIM dual active (DSDA) in what Qualcomm claimed was an industry first. As its name suggests, the 5G platform also offers support for cloud connectivity at “multi-gigabit” speed, the company claimed. Qualcomm also unveiled the QCA6696, a chip with built-in support for Wi-Fi 6 — the latest wireless standard — for in-car infotainment systems.
The QCA6696 chip features dual Wi-Fi 6 multiple-input multiple output (MIMO) access points that can deliver throughput of up to 1.8Gbps, and it supports screen mirroring from compatible devices and wireless backup cameras. It also supports Bluetooth 5.1, full MIMO client, and the company’s in-house aptX Adaptive audio tech. Like the QCA6390 chip, which Qualcomm also unveiled today, the QCA6696 is compliant with WPA3 — the latest Wi-Fi security protocol.
Qualcomm, which competes with Intel and Nvidia in this space, said it expects to sample its new automotive offerings later this year and make them available for production vehicles in 2021. All of these offerings are part of the company’s second-generation connected car reference design that it plans to share with automakers in the second half of the year. Intel partnered with Nokia and Ericsson last year to begin working on a 5G automotive trial — though its offerings also have yet to hit the consumer space.
To power robotics products such as the next iterations of iRobot’s Roomba vacuum cleaner, Qualcomm showcased its Robotics RB3 platform, the company’s first integrated offering that supports “highly” customized set of hardware, software, and other tools.
Sitting at the center of Robotics RB3 platform is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 system-on-chip (10nm process), which supports 4G/LTE connectivity, and the company’s AI Engine that performs machine learning and computer vision tasks on the device itself.
The platform also supports hi-fidelity sensor processing for perception; odometry for localization, mapping, and navigation; and wireless connectivity. Qualcomm said it plans to introduce support for 5G connectivity to the RB3 platform later this year. The Robotics RB3 platform supports Linux and Robot Operating System (ROS) and Amazon’s AWS RoboMaker.
The platform is designed for consumer-facing devices, as well as enterprise and industrial applications, the company said, adding that it expects to see commercial devices making use of it hit the market later this year. “We aim to bring our cutting-edge AI, edge compute, and connectivity technologies into the hands of many more robotics innovators to help spur the fast development and commercialization of a new generation of useful and intelligent robots in agriculture, consumer, delivery, inspection, service, smart manufacturing/Industry 4.0, warehousing and logistics, and other applications,” Dev Singh, head of autonomous robotics, drones, and intelligent machines at Qualcomm, said in a statement.
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