Qualcomm is a pioneer and proponent of mobile technologies. So in our business, when we talk about “horsepower,” we mean the power of chipsets, and what’s “under the hood” is a term that applies to the insides of a mobile device. In general, we’re tech enthusiasts, not hardcore gearheads.
But lately, we’ve played an ever-growing role in the auto industry as manufacturers use more and more of our mobile technology breakthroughs to “wow” new-car buyers and aftermarket enthusiasts with high-tech connectivity features such as GPS navigation, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, streaming content, emergency services and more.
When Formula E, the FIA-sanctioned EV race series, surfaced, we saw an opportunity to not just showcase Qualcomm Halo technology, but also to work with an entity that shared some common goals: advance EV technology and transportation, promote environmental sustainability, and enhance the fan experience with wireless technologies.
Pollution—a growing urban crisis
While some studies have shown that enthusiasm for vehicle ownership is waning—particularly among millennials in the U.S.—the number of automobiles on the world’s roads is on the rise. At last count, there were 1.1 billion vehicles on the road. By 2050, this figure is expected to hit 2.5 billion. Fascinating, but concerning. Why? Because the vast majority of the vehicles on the roads are gasoline or diesel-driven, which takes a huge toll on the environment.
Moreover, most vehicles operate in densely populated cities. As more people move into cities—the World Health Organization estimates that 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050—a larger percentage of the world population will be adversely affected by gasoline or diesel-driven vehicle pollution. This, in turn, will impact health care and costs, creating an ugly downward spiral.
Electric vehicles (EVs) offer the city dwellers, and the rest of the world, a breath of fresh air (ugh, sorry). They offer zero tail pipe emission, are relatively quiet, and, at times, not ugly. At the very least, they don’t leak oil on the street in front of your house or in your driveway. The public still has some concerns about this technology, namely battery cost, range anxiety and the hassle of charging. How can Qualcomm and Formula E overcome those doubts?
Win-Win: Formula E and Qualcomm
There’s an auto industry adage that has held weight for decades: “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” It essentially states that there’s a direct link between winning in motorsports and car sales. While Formula E is not (yet) a battle of auto manufacturers, we see it as an effective way to showcase the capabilities of EVs—effectively enabling the entire EV industry to win—and accelerate the sales of EVs.
Looking farther out, beyond the mass adoption of EVs, Qualcomm foresees the next challenge to be for governments and automotive companies: how do we charge all of these EVs? At the moment there are two possible solutions: plug-in charging or Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC).
Obviously, with Qualcomm Halo, we think WEVC is by far the better option—it’s simpler, more convenient, more elegant and more efficient. It can take place wherever you park—your home, the office parking lot, the shopping center… wherever. WEVC can eliminate the hassle of searching for a plug-in charging post and physically connecting a cable to your EV.
Benefits of Qualcomm Halo WEVC:
If you’ve never seen a Qualcomm Halo demo, it’s pretty uneventful. But that’s what it should be—you just park over the pad and… you walk away. That’s it, your car is getting charged! As we like to say here at Qualcomm, “no wires, no hassle.”
The first of 10 Formula E races will kick off in Beijing, China in September of 2014 (exact date TBD). Race safety cars will be using Qualcomm Halo WEVC—putting the technology to the ultimate test. If you cannot make it to Beijing, you’ll have nine other chances to catch this all-new motorsport circus. You can also watch the green flag drop on Fox Sports.
In addition to prepping its WEVC technology, Qualcomm will be working closely with the multi-national wireless network operators that serve all 10 race venues to optimize mobile connectivity for race fans who, at any given time during the race, are expected to be loading up wireless networks with calls, texts, streaming race news and video, and Formula E-related mobile games.
Whether you’re a race fan or not, you need to see a few of these races—it’s not just the future of auto racing, it’s the future of wireless. Go to the Qualcomm Halo and Formula E websites to learn more.