Qualcomm unveils its Snapdragon Ride platform for all levels of automated driving

Kirsten Korosec

Qualcomm today unveiled a new automotive platform called Snapdragon Ride that's designed to power all levels of automated driving, from today's active safety systems in passenger cars to the robotaxis that may someday ply city streets.

The scalable platform consists of a Snapdragon Ride system-on-chip, accelerator and autonomous stack.

Qualcomm might be best known for supporting mobile phones, but it also has a family of automotive products, including semiconductors for the telematics systems in cars. Snapdragon Ride is the latest — and perhaps most notable effort to date — to carve out more market share in the already crowded ADAS and automated driving industries. It also puts Qualcomm in competition, once again, with the likes of Nvidia and Intel's Mobileye subsidiary.

The Snapdragon Ride platform is designed to support the top three industry segments in automated driving, Nakul Duggal, senior vice president of product management at Qualcomm told TechCrunch in a recent interview. It can handle the hardware requirements for the active safety advanced driver assistance systems found in today's passenger vehicles, including lane keeping, traffic sign recognition and automatic emergency braking. But Duggal says it also can manage the more intensive hardware requirements in so-called Level 2+ systems, such as automated highway driving and self-parking, as well as Level 4, which is a designation given to autonomous urban driving applications like robotaxis.

The platform is built on modular multi-core CPUs, energy-efficient AI and computer vision engines and a GPU, the company said. It's also thermally efficient and can offer 30 tera operations per second (TOPS) for the lower level active safety systems, up to more than 700 TOPS at 130W for autonomous driving. This means the platform can operate at these various levels without requiring additional liquid-cooled systems, which helps lower the cost and boost reliability, Duggal said, adding it can be particularly useful in electric vehicles.

Snapdragon Ride is expected to be available for pre-development to automakers and Tier-1 suppliers in the first half of 2020. Snapdragon Ride-enabled vehicles are expected to be in production in 2023.

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