The future of cars may be self-driving EVs gossiping about their humans and traffic
Which might explain what Qualcomm wants with Autotalks
In the future vehicles will talk to each other, relaying key metrics between themselves, as they carry their passengers to their destinations – or so Qualcomm's automotive division hopes.
The US chip giant on Monday announced the acquisition of Israeli startup Autotalks, which specializes in the development of vehicle-to-anything (V2X) communications technologies.
As the name suggests, the technology is designed to facilitate the sharing of information between vehicles and their surrounding environments – ideally helping them to operate more safely and optimally. This means things like sharing info in real time about traffic and dangers to road users, decisions taken by vehicles, where people are going, and so on – or so it seems to us. With this information shared, vehicles and drivers should be able to make better decisions.
Neither party disclosed the terms of the deal.
This takeover isn't too surprising when you recall that Qualcomm enjoys designing cellular and wireless communications chips for vehicles as well as mobile devices, so Autotalks should fit right in.
Autotalks has been working on V2X communications technology for nearly 15 years and has raised $100 million to date. Its latest platform allows for "dual-mode" communications across multiple V2X standards. Dual-mode refers to the use of cellular and ad-hoc networks for communication with other vehicles.
One goal of the tech is reducing the likelihood of collisions, at least with compatible vehicles.
In a statement, Qualcomm VP and GM of Automotive Technologies Nakul Duggal said the acquisition should accelerate the mass adoption of V2X technologies in automobiles. Qualcomm plans to integrate the tech into its Snapdragon Digital Chassis platform, and claims numerous interested parties – including America's General Motors and France's Renault. Both automakers own several marques, so Qualcomm has a chance to get into many of the world's cars and light trucks.
Of course, before the tech can make its way into your next EV, the deal first needs to overcome regulatory scrutiny.
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Qualcomm's automotive business is among the largest, with the division netting annual revenue of around $1.4 billion. However the Snapdragon designer faces stiff competition from the likes of Nvidia and Intel's Mobileye division, both of which continue to gain steady ground among automakers and autonomous taxi services.
Automotive chips, including those used in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which V2X tech is designed to compliment, remained a bright spot for many chipmakers during their most recently reported quarters. That performance was a pleasing contrast to the slowing demand for smartphones, PCs, memory, and other components.
These macroeconomic headwinds battered Qualcomm's profits during its latest financial quarter, with net income sliding 42 percent to $1.704 billion. But while Qualcomm reported declining revenues in its mobile and IoT segments, its automotive unit grew 20 percent year over year to $447 million during those three months.
It was a similar story for Qualcomm's competitors, which also reported growth within their automotive segments. Mobileye, for instance, was the only Intel division to gain ground during the quarter, raking in $458 million in revenues – a 16 percent increase from the year prior. Meanwhile, Nvidia's automotive division continued to make steady gains in its most recent quarter, growing 135 percent from the year prior to $294 million in Q4. ®