Snapdragon Ride Puts Qualcomm In The Driver’s Seat Of 5G Autonomous Automobiles

Qualcomm Car
Take a look at your smartphone. Is it an Android device? If so, there is a very good chance it is rocking a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor inside, as many Android handsets do. Smartphones are not the final frontier for Qualcomm, though, which also has big aspirations of making tomorrow's autonomous vehicles much safer than they are today. The way there, according to Qualcomm, is through its Snapdragon Ride platform.

Announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas today, Snapdragon Ride is a robust set of hardware and software tools for automakers to design self-driving cars around. It consists of a family of scalable, open autonomous driving solutions, including Snapdragon Ride Safety system-on-chips (SoCs), Snapdragon Ride Safety Accelerator hardware, and the Snapdragon Ride Autonomous Stack (a purpose-built autonomous driving software stack).

"The unique combination of Snapdragon Ride SoCs, accelerator and autonomous stack offers automakers a scalable solution designed to support three industry segments of autonomous systems, namely L1/L2 Active Safety ADAS for vehicles that include automatic emergency braking, traffic sign recognition and lane keeping assist functions; L2+ Convenience ADAS for vehicles featuring Automated Highway Driving, Self-Parking and Urban Driving in Stop-and-Go traffic; and L4/L5 Fully Autonomous Driving for autonomous urban driving, robo-taxis and robo-logistics," Qualcomm explains.

Qualcomm already pulls in hundreds of millions of dollars each year from the automotive industry, but the Snapdragon Ride platform ups the ante by somewhat literally putting the company's hardware in the driver's seat—Qualcomm's other automotive solutions don't actually control automobiles, whereas the Snapdragon Ride platform would actively assist the driver (or take full control of the vehicle).

There are several different multi-core chip solutions available to automakers. Qualcomm's strategy is to offer solutions for different levels of autonomy. Its L1 and L2 products, for example, would assist with certain safety features and offer up to 30 tera operations per second (TOPS), while its L4 and even L5 solutions for cars that can drive themselves would offer up to 700 TOPs at 130W.

"This platform can therefore result in designs that can be passively or air-cooled, thereby reducing cost, and increasing reliability, avoiding the need for expensive liquid cooled systems and allowing for simpler vehicle designs, and extending the driving range for electric vehicles. The Snapdragon Ride SoCs and accelerator are designed for functional safety ASIL-D systems," Qualcomm says.

The potential for using passive cooling rather than trickier (and more expensive) liquid cooling is one of several benefits Qualcomm is claiming for its Snapdragon Ride platform. There are more than a dozen others, including...
  • Proven and integrated safety board support package with safe OS and hypervisors
  • Safety frameworks from automotive industry leaders, including Adaptive AUTOSAR
  • Optimized and comprehensive foundational function libraries for computer vision, sensor signal processing, and standard arithmetic libraries
  • AI tools for improving model efficiencies, as well as optimizing runtime on heterogeneous compute units
  • Comprehensive autonomous driving stack for highway functions, such as perception and planning for highway driving functions
  • Cost-efficient localization solution with Qualcomm Vision Enhanced Precise Positioning (VEPP)
  • Hardware and Software in Loop Test environment
  • Data Management Tools for intelligent data collection and automated annotation
Qualcomm says the Snapdragon Ride platform will be available for pre-development to automakers and part supplies in the first half of this year. Vehicles that utilize the platform are anticipated to go into production sometime in 2023, so it will be a few years before we see actual automobiles for customers powered by Snapdragon Ride.