Qualcomm working with Google on connected cars

BARCELONA, Spain--Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) is working with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) in the connected car market, though the chip giant is not yet ready to join Google's Open Automotive Alliance, according to a Qualcomm executive. The OAA, formed in January, is designed to bring Google's Android mobile operating system into connected cars.

Qualcomm demonstrated a QNX-based in-car system.

In an interview with FierceWireless here at the Mobile World Congress trade show, Qualcomm's Nakal Duggal noted that the silicon maker has been a Google partner since 2007. "We plan to contribute whatever it is we do for automotive back into the Android ecosystem," said Dugall, vice president of product management for automotive and M2M at Qualcomm. "We are working with Google closely to understand exactly what it means to be part of the OAA."

The initial OAA members include Audi, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai and, notably, chipmaker Nvidia. The companies said they are committed to bringing the Android platform to cars this year, and that they will use an open development model and common platform to innovate faster.

According to a January report from The Verge, which cited unnamed sources, the OAA will focus on Android-powered car systems, and there will also be enhancements to Android smartphones designed to make them more car-friendly. 

While he declined to comment directly on the report, Duggal said that when Google first moved Android from smartphones to tablets, it modified its framework and usability for a different usage model. The car is very similar, he said, and actually much more complex, since there needs to be a clear focus on vehicle safety.  

At MWC, Qualcomm added the Gobi 9x30 platform with extended lifecycle support to its Snapdragon Automotive Solutions. The Gobi 9x30 supports LTE Advanced Category 6 with up to 300 Mbps downlink speeds and will also be pre-integrated with Qualcomm Technologies' recently-announced automotive-grade Snapdragon 602A processor.

Duggal said automakers are demanding connectivity at those high levels because advanced technology sets them apart from the competition, especially for luxury automakers such as Audi and BMW. Further, he said, while the jump from slower LTE connectivity speeds to Cat 6 in a car is not that significant, car makers want to put technology in a car that will future-proof the vehicle as much as possible since car life-cycles are much longer than mobile devices.  

For more:
- see these two Qualcomm press releases

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