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Qualcomm Partners with BMW on Chips for ADAS and Automated Driving

by Charles Choi
A BMW 7 Series car used to demonstrate SAE Level 4 autonomy. Courtesy: BMW.

Qualcomm, one of the world’s biggest chipmakers for mobile phones, will now supply chips to BMW’s next generation of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving platforms, the companies announced Nov. 16.

The new deal will have BMW base its next generation automated driving stack on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Ride vision system-on-a-chip.

“BMW has chosen Qualcomm Technologies as our technology partner and systems solutions provider based on the company’s breadth and depth of portfolio, as well as proven expertise in compute, connectivity, computer vision, advanced semiconductors and driver assistance technologies,” Nicolai Martin, BMW Group’s senior vice president of driving experience, said in a statement. “We look forward to working in direct relationship with Qualcomm Technologies to build our next-generation ADAS and automated driving platform, as well as to continue delivering world-class driving experiences to our customers.”

This deal comes as Qualcomm was recently unseated as the world’s biggest chip supplier for mobile phones by Taiwanese chipmaker MediaTek, according to Hong Kong-based industry analyst firm Counterpoint. Qualcomm’s move into automotive chips is part of a diversification strategy expected to deliver $10 billion in revenue during 2021 and grow over 80% year over year, which is 1.6 times faster than Qualcomm’s mainstay Snapdragon mobile phone chips, Counterpoint added.

“Our announcement with BMW today is the onset of a new era in automotive where two technology leaders have come together to design and develop a key element of Snapdragon Digital Chassis for the next generation automobile,” Cristiano Amon, president and CEO of Qualcomm Incorporated, said in a statement. “We are very proud of this milestone and cannot wait to bring our jointly designed products on the road.”

Chipmakers are playing an increasingly role in autonomous vehicles. For example, in May, Volvo announced it will use Qualcomm’s rival Nvidia’s chips to help power its next generation of self-driving cars.

Qualcomm will provide BMW cars with a dedicated computer vision system-on-a-chip to analyze data from front, rear and surround-view cameras, as well as a high-performance ADAS central compute controller.

“Our goal has always been to offer automakers an open, comprehensive and transformative platform that encompasses semiconductor, software, stack, systems and services,” Nakul Duggal, Qualcomm Technologies’ senior vice president and general manager of automotive, said in a statement.  “We are honored to be selected by the BMW Group to be its ADAS technology partner for computer vision stack, vision system-on-a-chip and ADAS central compute controllers, and we look forward to joint development and deployment of these products.” 

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