CES is an event that is full of next-generation technologies and innovations that are sometimes expressed through concepts. Qualcomm’s CES experience was not of concepts. It announced new partnerships and offerings in the automotive space that we should see later in 2022. I have already written of Qualcomm’s partnerships with Honda and Volvo as well as Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon Ride Vision System from day 0 of CES 2022 that you can read here. I now want to take a deep dive into its latest partnership announcement with GM and more about its ADAS plays that accelerate its position in the automotive industry.
Looking back at Qualcomm ADAS
While at CES, Daniel Newman I sat down with Nakul Duggal, SVP and GM of Qualcomm Automotive, for an episode of Six-Five on the Road. During the episode, I mentioned that I was given the opportunity to test ride in one of Qualcomm’s advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) enabled cars a couple of CES' ago. At the time, I believed Qualcomm’s ADAS rollout timeframe was not going to be a short-term affair. It was the first time Qualcomm had told anyone that it was working on ADAS. In the automotive industry, it takes about five to seven years, more or less, for products to come to market. Qualcomm can bring what it showed me at CES in 2019 to vehicles coming later this year, much quicker than I expected.
This brings me to the GM announcement and partnership that announced more details than ever.
GM announced at CES 2022 that its next-generation hands-free driver-assist system, Ultra Cruise, will be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Ride System. It will not only be the first company to use Qualcomm’s ADAS system, but Qualcomm’s Ride Platform will feature a “5nm” Snapdragon SA8540P and SA9000P artificial intelligent accelerator. GM says its Ultra Cruise will help power GM-developed ADAS software and features such as perception, planning, localization, and mapping. The significant part of GM’s announcement is that Ultra Cruise and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Ride Platform will be in the Cadillac LYRIQ and Cadillac CELSTIQ as early as 2023.
GM and Qualcomm continue to slowly dribble out details of the platform which I appreciate. While it would be great to get the news in one fell swoop, I can see how both GM and Qualcomm want maximum coverage over a long period of time.
I think it is essential to understand that Qualcomm is very early to deployment while also being a new player in the ADAS game. This is unique. I believe the Ride Vision Platform fills the gap in Qualcomm’s Digital Chassis and realizes Qualcomm’s fruits in strategically acquiring Veneer. ADAS is not a technology solution Qualcomm would have been able to bring to market so early if it was not for the acquisition of Veneer.
When a company is growing in a specific market and growing its offerings, there are a few options to consider when growing company offerings. One is to build everything in-house, which takes time. Another is to acquire a company, if you’re big enough, to fill the needs for growth, whether that’s IP, licensing, etc. Qualcomm’s acquisition of Veneer positioned Qualcomm to be successful in ADAS and gave Qualcomm the ability to bring it to market and innovate years ahead of when I think anyone expected.
Snapdragon Ride Vision System is feature-rich
For the Snapdragon Ride Vision System to be successful, it will need modularity and customization that fits the needs of each OEM. The Snapdragon Ride Vision System integrates Arriver’s Vision stack that tracks the regulatory requirements of automakers and global safety rating agencies. The Arriver Vision stack has Computer Vision with years of R&D under its belt. Its SDK allows for the development and integration of drive policies and driver monitoring solutions. It has a scalable camera system for varying levels of object detection. Combined with Snapdragon architecture, its scalable camera system can perceive road geometry, traffic indicators like guardrails, dynamic objects. These are technologies that are currently not on the roads we have today.
The GM announcement and the newest addition to the Snapdragon Ride System, Ride Vision, put an exclamation point on Qualcomm’s Digital Chassis. Qualcomm is putting its “5nm” Snapdragon architecture to market as early as 2023. I am impressed by Qualcomm’s timeframe and how quickly it moves in the automotive industry.
I believe that Qualcomm’s automotive approach has been instrumental in its auto momentum and will help it in ADAS and SD. It strikes me that while smartphones and auto are different, to be successful in automotive long term, vendors will need to have a systems approach (telematics-infotainment-safety-autonomy-cloud-services), leveraged R&D approach (leveraging mobile), scale (billions of chips per year) and staying power (20+ years automotive). Qualcomm has this in smartphones and has all four characteristics in automotive.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.