author: Eric Walz
Volkswagen Group’s new software company CARIAD announced on Tuesday that it has selected Qualcomm Technologies to supply system-on-chips (SoCs) for its vehicle software platform designed to deliver up to SAE level-4 autonomous driving capabilities in the automaker’s future vehicles.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Ride is one of the industry’s most advanced, scalable and fully customizable ADAS platforms available to automakers for adding advanced safety features, as well as autonomous driving capabilities to their models.
The selection of Qualcomm Technologies by CARIAD, is the first of its kind for Volkwagen’s software unit. The Snapdragon Ride Platform meets the needs of the software developed by CARIAD. It allows the automaker to select which high-performance computer chips are used and match them with its own vehicle software requirements.
“Finding the best balance between scalability, costs and performance was one of our biggest challenges for the design of our new High Performance Compute platform”, said Klaus Hofmockel, Senior Vice President Hardware Development at CARIAD. “Qualcomm Technologies’ fully scalable SoC lineup delivers very efficient compute performance in combination with energy efficiency and also cost-effectiveness.”
Volkswagen believes that a vehicle’s software and hardware must be perfectly matched in order to achieve the best possible performance and efficiency of central computer systems in the long term. This is especially true for complex functions such as SAE level-3 and higher autonomous driving.
Going forward, the SoCs supplied by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Ride Platform will be an important hardware component in CARIAD’s standardized and scalable vehicle compute platform, which are targeted for Volkswagen vehicles from the middle of the decade.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Ride platform was first announced at CES in Jan 2020. Since its unveiling, it has gained momentum with global automakers and Tier 1 suppliers worldwide for its robust capabilities. It’s also being adopted by BMW.
Qualcomm’s recent push into the automotive space comes as more automakers build vehicles with connectivity features and automated driving capabilities. The demand for high performance chips from Qualcomm and Nvidia that support these functions is growing in the auto industry.
“The connected and automated car of the future is a high-performance computer on wheels. Behind it lies enormously complex computing power,” said CARIAD CEO Dirk Hilgenberg. “With our automated driving solutions, we are striving to let customers take their hands off the steering wheel in the future. Our software and Qualcomm Technologies’ high-performance SoCs are the perfect match to bring this new automotive experience to customers around the world.”
The Snapdragon Ride Platform is based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon family of automotive SoCs. It’s built on scalable and modular high-performance multi-core CPUs. The platform also utilizes energy efficient AI and computer vision (CV) engines, as well as a graphics processing unit (GPU). The chips support level 2 advanced driver assist systems (ADAS), such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane keep assist.
“We look forward to supporting CARIAD and its suppliers to deliver scalable and secure automated driving functions for Volkswagen Group vehicles through their selection of our open and programmable Snapdragon Ride Platforms,” said Nakul Duggal, senior vice president & GM, automotive, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “As the amount of innovation and complexities increases, strong collaborations such as ours with CARIAD are a necessity to not only address aggressive time-to-market goals, but to deliver safe and reliable automated driving experiences for all.”
Volkswagen plans to have an entire lineup of software-defined vehicles in the future that will receive regular over-the-air (OTA) software updates, starting with its ID family of electric vehicles, which includes the new ID.4 SUV.
In June of last year, Volkswagen shared its updated vision to transform into an advanced mobility company over the next decade, which includes investments in battery technology and software-based vehicles that can be updated over-the-air.
The plans will transform Volkswagen into an electric mobility provider and software-driven technology company, which rival Tesla describes itself as.
In addition to its work on automated driving and vehicle safety systems, CARIAD is working on a standardized vehicle infotainment platform for Volkswagen, as well as software functions for linking powertrains, and chassis and charging technology of EVs.
The latest generation of Volkswagen’s EV software platform is named “Software 3.0” and it adds many new features to VW’s new family of ID vehicles that enhances the user experience and optimizes EV charging capacity, according to the company.
In January, Automotive supplier Bosch and CARIAD agreed to form an extensive partnership to jointly develop a state-of-the-art, standardized software platform for future Volkswagen vehicles.
The goal of the partnership is to make SAE Level-2 and 3 autonomous driving capabilities for vehicles sold under the Volkswagen Group brands suitable for volume production.
The Snapdragon-powered autonomous driving platform will be built for urban, city and freeway driving, including a Level-3 system that requires no human supervision on highways. By 2030, up to 40 million vehicles across VW’s brands could be powered by the new software platform.
In March, Volkswagen announced the addition of anonymous “swarm data” from other Volkswagen vehicles to help its advanced driver assist systems make better decisions over time, such as performing automatic lane changes. The addition of swarm data marks the next step towards vehicle systems that support fully-automated driving, according to Volkswagen.
The optional feature, which is part of Volkswagen’s new intelligent driver assistance system, is called “Travel Assist with Swarm Data”. Among its features, it can automatically keep the vehicle in the center of the lane, but can also adapt to an individual’s driving style, including driving further to the left or right of the lane instead of exactly in the middle.
CARIAD was established by Volkswagen in 2020 under the name “Car.Software Organization”. The unit of the automaker employs around 5,000 engineers and developers around the world that are working to build a uniform software platform for all brands of Volkswagen Group vehicles. The platform includes a unified and scalable architecture, an operating system and automotive cloud.
CARIAD is based in Germany, but is closely cooperating with its international development teams in the US and China.