If you think cars today look bewilderingly different than they did 10 years ago, that’s nothing compared to the unseen things going on under the hood — just look at the Qualcomm Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC. As more and more cars are released as electric vehicles, or with advanced safety features and infotainment features, cars are becoming more and more like computers — something they’ve never resembled in the past.
That requires a rethinking of how cars work, and it’s what Qualcomm has been thinking a lot about. The Qualcomm Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC they are showing off at CES 2023 is the result of that, a new chipset that will power a wide range of features, much as their chipsets do in smartphones. It’ll be the latest part of a cockpit platform they’ve been developing for several years now.
The main paradigm shift going on in the background is this — traditionally, the inner workings of cars have all been segmented. The headlights, drivetrain, windshield wipers, everything is wired separately, without the need for any part of the car to communicate with another. But, in the present, we have technologies that can use cameras to activate brakes, automatic headlights, and a host of other features that would benefit from one part of the car knowing what the other is doing.
That’s the main problem the Qualcomm Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC is solving. With one integrated chipset powering a host of features, including 5G connectivity, cars can be built with increased autonomy and safety in mind — vehicles will not only better know what they are doing, they’ll be able to better communicate with other connected cars and infrastructure. That opens up a future where your car will know about traffic conditions, the location of other cars on the road, and even where road work is being done, allowing the car to react accordingly — an important step towards truly autonomous vehicles.
But, that’s much further off than a lot of the industry though it would be five years ago. In the short term, the Qualcomm Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC will improve Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), including features like automatic braking and lane detection.
Some of the benefits will be easier for most of us to see. The chipset will also run apps and services from quite a few companies, including Access, Amazon Music, AUO, Bose, Carota, Cognizant, Daon, Rightware, SoundHound, Thundersoft, Vector Unit, Wink and Zoom.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC is being put to work in a concept car at CES 2023. That car has some pretty cool personalization features, such as integrated facial recognition and biometric authentication, which will allow vehicles to recognize the person in the car and automatically adjust the seat position, climate, and entertainment options. Interactive assistance takes advantage of natural language control to allow users to control interactive voice control over their vehicle.
An immersive audio feature allows vehicle riders to take advantage of noise/echo cancellation and engine noise suppression to create an “audio zone” to better enjoy your music in-car.
Finally, Qualcomm demonstrated the real-time 3D mapping and positioning capabilities of the Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC, which is designed to improve vehicle navigation and driver assistance capabilities for improved safety in the driverless future. Qualcomm also demonstrated how footage from software-defined vehicles could simplify investigating vehicle accidents.
Qualcomm announced that the Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC is still undergoing testing, but the company expects it to go into production in 2024.