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Volkswagen to put Qualcomm tech under the hood across all brands

CEO says Intel may yet end up inside, through its Mobileye tech

Volkswagen Group’s automotive software subsidiary CARIAD has picked Qualcomm to provide system-on-chip modules (SOCs) for its automated driving software platform.

The company has chosen Snapdragon Ride Platform portfolio as its hardware, projected to be available as of “the middle of the decade” according to CARIAD.

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said its project Trinity – the next generation of electric vehicles which will require "high performance chips" – will be ready for Level 4 automated driving in 2026. Level 4 automation means cars can handle most tasks without human intervention, but people can still take the wheel if they wish.

The CEO referred to the development of inhouse software expertise as "the biggest switch that the automotive industry has to make."

Qualcomm's Ride platform requires multiple SOCs in harness to enable automated driving. Qualcomm also offers the Snapdragon Automotive Platform – a quad-core SOC that offers Wi-Fi, LTE, and integration with other in-car devices.

"The selection of Qualcomm Technologies, a specialist in the semiconductor industry, is the first of its kind for CARIAD, allowing it to define which high-performance computer chips are used for its platform and match them with its own software requirements," clarified the auto software maker in a canned statement.

The CARIAD software and technology platform – which includes a unified operating system, a unified electrical and electronic architecture, and an automotive cloud – is intended eventually to go into all Volkswagen Group brands as a standardized operating system. That certainly would be a boon for Qualcomm.

In 2021, Volkswagen Group delivered over 8.8 million units, resulting [PDF] in more than $263 billion in sales revenue for the automaker. The Group also owns Audi, Seat, Škoda, Porsche, and luxury brands Bentley and Lamborghini. If the Group pulls this off, owners of rather humble machines will be able to claim they pack the same computers found in premium brands.

Intel has also pitched its wares as ideal for automotive applications. Volkswagen CEO Diess went out of his way on LinkedIn to reassure the public that it planned to continue working with Chipzilla, in particular its Mobileye computer vision system.

"That doesn't mean that we stop work with Intel – the opposite is going to be reality. We want to expand our very successful partnership with Mobileye, are already in talks.

"For the next generation of our software used by Audi AG and Porsche AG we want to have Mobileye stronger implemented to enable the cars for convenient and reliable level 2 ++ automated driving."

Qualcomm recently boosted its autonomous driving expertise with the acquisition of Swedish automotive technology company Veoneer. ®

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