Qualcomm, Daimler Partner on Automotive Tech

The two companies are working on ways to not only charge mobile devices wirelessly in the car, but also to wirelessly charge the car itself.

connected cars

Qualcomm and car maker Daimler are looking for ways to bring wireless charging to automobiles.

The two companies are not only partnering to develop technologies that will enable drivers to wirelessly charge their mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, while in their cars, but also to wirelessly charge their electric cars.

Officials with Qualcomm and Daimler—which includes such brands as Mercedes-Benz—said in a joint statement that their alliance initially will focus on improving the in-car mobile experience around not just wireless charging but also 3G and 4G connectivity, and will branch out from that.

"The automobile has become a mobile platform and an extension of always-on connectivity, and as such, we're utilizing our expertise as the leader in mobile technology to deliver in-car experiences comparable to the ease and convenience of smartphones," Qualcomm President Derek Aberle said in a statement.

A broad array of tech companies are beginning to focus some of their efforts on the automotive industry, from in-car infotainment consoles to safety features to self-driving capabilities. For example, at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in January, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said during a speech that Nvidia wants to be a leader in automotive technology as cars are outfitted with a growing number of systems and as connectivity becomes increasingly important.

"Your future cars will be the most advanced computer in the world," Huang said as he introduced such automotive offerings as Nvidia's Drive PX, Drive CX and drive Studio software. "There will be more computing horsepower inside a car than anything you own today."

ARM officials in April said the company is licensing functional safety support across its Cortex-A, Cortex-R and Cortex-M processor families, enabling chip and system makers to meet the automotive industry's growing demand for more compute capabilities, particularly in the area of safety. Microsoft is looking to bring Windows to car systems as part of the software maker's larger Internet of things (IoT) push.

Huawei Technologies announced May 26 that it is working with Audi on connected car technology that leverages the tech vendor's LTE modules.

Qualcomm has had its hands in the automotive space for more than a decade, Anthony Eng, marketing manager at the chip maker, said in a post on the company blog. It has been involved in 40 connected car efforts with more than 15 OEMs, Eng wrote.

"The Qualcomm Snapdragon 602A processor is gaining traction throughout the industry," he wrote.

Qualcomm has created its own Snapdragon Automotive Solutions unit. Qualcomm's automotive products focus on everything from safety and infotainment to personalization and energy. The company's Vive 802.11ac technology offers WiFi technology for connected cars, while its IZat location services is being integrated into infotainment and telematics systems.

As part of the alliance, Daimler will use Qualcomm's Halo wireless electric vehicle charging (WEVC) technology as part of its Wireless Power Transfer 2.0 effort for electric vehicles. The wireless charging technology will enable users driving Daimler electric and plug-in hybrid cars to charge the vehicles without having to plug them into charging stations.

Daimler also will use Qualcomm's WiPower to wirelessly charge consumer electronics inside the car by resting them on a cord-free console.

"It's important that we remain on the cutting edge of technology and continue to deliver unparalleled experiences to our customers," Thomas Weber, a member of the Board of Management at Daimler that is responsible for group research and Mercedes-Benz cars development, said in a statement.