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CES: Snapdragon Ride takes aim at self-driving cars

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At CES 2020 this week, Qualcomm Technologies unveiled the Qualcomm Snapdragon Ride Platform, which it says is “one of the automotive industry’s most advanced, scalable and open autonomous driving solutions”. It consists of the family of Snapdragon Ride Safety system-on-chips (SoCs), Snapdragon RideSafety Accelerator and Snapdragon Ride Autonomous Stack. 

Snapdragon Ride aims to address the complexity of autonomous driving and ADAS (advanced driver-assistance systems) by leveraging its high-performance, power-efficient hardware, industry-leading artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and pioneering autonomous driving stack. The combination of SoCs, accelerator and autonomous stack offers automakers a scalable solution designed to support three industry segments of autonomous systems. These are: 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.

The Snapdragon Ride Platform, based on the Snapdragon family of automotive SoCs and accelerator, is built on scalable and modular heterogeneous high-performance multi-core CPUs, energy-efficient AI and computer vision (CV) engines, industry-leading GPU.  The platform with a combination of SoCs and accelerator can be used as needed to address every market segment offering industry-leading thermal efficiency, from 30 Tera Operations Per Second (TOPS) for L1/L2 applications to over 700 TOPS at 130W for L4/L5 driving. 

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.

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

“Over the years, we have consistently demonstrated our prowess in large-scale deployment of high-performance and highly intelligent cockpit and connected car solutions that operate in power-constrained environments across virtually every class of vehicle.  Today, we are pleased to be introducing our first-generation Snapdragon Ride platform, which is highly scalable, open, fully customizable and highly power optimized autonomous driving solution designed to address a range of requirements from NCAP to L2+ Highway Autopilot to Robo Taxis.  Combined with our Snapdragon Ride Autonomous Stack, or an automaker or tier-1’s own algorithms, our platform aims at accelerating the deployment of high-performance autonomous driving to mass market vehicles,” said Nakul Duggal, senior vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “We’ve spent the last several years researching and developing our new autonomous platform and accompanying driving stack, identifying challenges and gathering insights from data analysis to address the complexities automakers want to solve.” 

Qualcomm Technologies’ Industry-Leading Safety SoC and Accelerator Hardware and Software Solutions

While the company believes the next wave of innovation may be in the L2+ Convenience ADAS segment, the hardware solutions utilized in Snapdragon Ride from a single system-on-chip (SoC) for an Active Safety ADAS system driven by regulatory mandates to a highly scalable architecture of multiple SoCs and dedicated autonomous driving accelerators allowing for fully autonomous self-driving systems. 

Qualcomm Technologies’ family of ADAS SoCs and accelerators are built on the fundamental approach of heterogeneous compute capabilities designed for application requirements. These ADAS SoCs and accelerators effectively manage a large amount of data from onboard systems, leveraging Qualcomm Technologies’ next-generation AI engines; image signal processors for camera sensors; enhanced digital signal processors (DSPs) for sensor signal processing; high-performance CPUs for planning and decision making; cutting-edge GPU technology for high-end visualization and immersive user experience; dedicated safety and security subsystems across the SoC and autonomous driving accelerator.  Through the autonomous driving accelerator, Qualcomm Technologies brings energy-efficient compute capabilities to mainstream vehicles, which has so far been largely unavailable to the automotive industry due to exceptionally complex and expensive thermal solutions that are fundamentally unscalable because of their power consumption requirements.  

Introducing the Snapdragon Ride Autonomous Stack

Integrated as a part of Snapdragon Ride is Qualcomm Technologies’ new purpose-built autonomous driving software stack, a modular and scalable solution available to automotive OEM and tier-1 suppliers to accelerate their development and innovations. This software stack facilitates automakers’ abilities to offer increased safety and comfort to everyday driving by offering optimized software and applications for complex use cases, such as self-navigating human-like highway driving, as well as choice of modular options like perception, localization, sensor fusion and behaviour planning. This software infrastructure for Snapdragon Ride supports customer-specific stack components to be co-hosted with the Snapdragon Ride Autonomous Stack components.

Qualcomm Technologies’ integrated automotive platforms drive leadership and growth across telematics, infotainment and in-car connectivity, with an order pipeline of more than $7 billion. Qualcomm Technologies currently is the leading semiconductor supplier in telematics and Bluetooth car connectivity and has secured infotainment and digital cockpit wins with 19 of the 25 global automaker brands.

All major global automakers currently use the company’s broad portfolio of automotive solutions across telematics, infotainment and connectivity, and continue to work alongside with Qualcomm Technologies to deliver safe, robust and efficient automotive solutions, including Snapdragon Ride. 

Snapdragon Ride incorporates the expertise of the automotive ecosystem needed to meet the automotive standards and infrastructure for safety hardware and software.

“Solutions that integrate the highest levels of functional safety are critical to the mass deployment of advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous vehicles,” says Chet Babla, vice president of automotive, automotive and IoT line of business, Arm. “The future of mobility mandates collaboration across the industry, and the work we are doing with Qualcomm Technologies to help integrate Arm functional safety solutions into Snapdragon Ride is one example of what can be achieved by working together to improve the safety of autonomous driving technologies.”

“Synopsys’ IP investment in ISO 26262 certification, AEC Q100 and quality management eases the development of a new generation of ADAS systems,” says John Koeter, senior vice president of marketing and strategy for IP, Synopsys. “Combining Synopsys’ automotive-grade DesignWare Interface IP, ARC Processor IP and Self-Test and Repair (STAR) Memory System with Snapdragon Ride supports Qualcomm Technologies to achieve high levels of functional safety, as well as accelerates certification of their SoCs.”

“BlackBerry QNX is pleased to have been selected by Qualcomm Technologies for the Snapdragon Ride,” said John Wall, senior vice president and co-head, BlackBerry QNX. “Both the QNX OS for Safety and QNX Hypervisor for Safety are trusted to deliver a safe, secure, and reliable software foundation for autonomous driving platforms. We look forward to building on our existing working relationship with Qualcomm Technologies as they further expand into the autonomous driving segment.”

“Infineon has a long history of delivering core semiconductor technology that makes cars safer, smarter and greener. Our AURIX microcontrollers combined with our expertise in dependable computing serve as fundamental building blocks for safety-critical automotive applications,” said Ritesh Tyagi, head of the automotive Silicon Valley innovation centre, Infineon. “The work between Infineon and Qualcomm Technologies to design and offer a dependable, scalable and power-efficient compute system has the ability to help advance the market towards a wider deployment of highly automated vehicles.”

“We are pleased to work with Qualcomm Technologies on next-generation AUTOSAR architectures that scale to meet the needs of our customers, integrating our EB corbos software with Snapdragon Ride,” said Artur Seidel, vice president, Americas, Elektrobit. “Our product offerings featuring Qualcomm Technologies’ technology are expected to make it easier for tier-1’s and OEMs to quickly and efficiently bring advanced autonomous systems to production vehicles.”

“ON Semiconductor is delighted to have our ADAS family of sensors integrated into Snapdragon Ride,” says Ross Jatou, vice president and general manager, the automotive sensing division, ON Semiconductor. “By working closely with Qualcomm Technologies, we ensure seamless and robust interoperability with Qualcomm Technologies’ processors and software, which helps OEMs and tier-1’s introduce next-generation solutions quickly and cost-effectively. Furthermore, the flexibility to add in-cabin functions— like driver monitoring and cabin monitoring to the infotainment computer cockpit and autonomous driving systems—should greatly accelerate the availability of these new safety and convenience features.”

Snapdragon Ride Benefits

  • 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 

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