New Qualcomm auto chipset advances vehicle-to-everything communications

Qualcomm's 9150 C-V2X chipset and reference design should bring automakers one step closer to deploying the communications systems needed for fully autonomous vehicles.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Qualcomm on Friday is introducing a new Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) chipset and reference design that should bring automakers one step closer to deploying the communications systems needed for fully autonomous vehicles.

The Qualcomm 9150 C-V2X chipset, expected to be available for commercial sampling in the second half of 2018, is based on specs from the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a collaboration between groups of telecommunications associations.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm's C-V2X reference design will feature the 9150 C-V2X chipset, an application processor running the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) V2X stack, as well as a Hardware Security Module (HSM).

Qualcomm already has mulitple automotive partners endorsing the new chipset, including Ford, Audi, the PSA Group and SAIC.

"We welcome Qualcomm Technologies' cellular-V2X product announcement, as the automotive industry and ecosystem work towards C-V2X implementation, and pave the path to 5G broadband and future operating services," Don Butler, executive director of Connected Vehicle and Services at Ford, said in a statement.

As C-V2X standards evolve, "there is an increasing appetite to say, 'Let's test it out,'" Durga Malladi, SVP of engineering at Qualcomm, said to ZDNet. "And for that, we need a chipset."

C-V2X technology encompasses two transmission modes: direct communications and network-based communications. It's key for both safety features and for implementing autonomous driving capabilities.


For instance, its direct communications capabilities improve a vehicle's situational awareness by detecting and exchanging information using low latency transmissions. Relying on the globally harmonized 5.9 GHz ITS band, the 9150 C-V2X chipset can relay information on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) scenarios without the need for a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM), cellular subscription or network assistance.

On top of that, C-V2X network-based communications (designed for 4G and emerging 5G wireless networks) supports telematics, connected infotainment and a growing number of advanced informational safety use cases.

In the 9150 C-V2X chipset, all of this translates into enhanced V2X capabilities like extended communication range, improved reliability and non-line-of-sight (NLOS) performance. With integrated global navigation satellite system (GNSS) support, it offers precise positioning for vehicles -- a feature that's key for safety and basic functionality of driverless cars.

With extended communication capabilities and precise positioning, Malladi explained, a car will eventually be able to communicate not just with the cars next to it, but with all cars within a certain range.

"Now you can start thinking about path planning," he said, "This is a glimpse of what's possible" with fully autonomous driving.

The C-V2X chipset is Qualcomm's latest demonstration of its interest in the automotive market. Last fall, Qualcomm reached a deal to acquire NXP Semiconductor for $47 billion to help it move into IOT and automotive. The deal, however, is still under review by regulators.

Earlier this year, Qualcomm published a report concluding that by 2035, 5G will enable more than $2.4 trillion in total economic output across the automotive sector, its supply chain, and its customers.

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