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A World Economic Forum preview: 4 Qualcomm technologies that are transforming urban mobility

By 2050, 70 percent of the world’s population will live in urban environments. But are today’s cities prepared for their future inhabitants? In truth, it could be a few decades before technology will completely reinvent the cars we drive and the roads we travel, but Qualcomm is already implementing automotive solutions that promise to make cities safer and more efficient. As part of that effort, Qualcomm is honored to host the World Economic Forum* meeting on “Shaping the Future of Urban Mobility,” which happens later this week.

Chaired by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and hosted by Qualcomm President Derek Aberle, the meeting will convene city officials and transportation executives from across the U.S. and around the world to explore how private and public sectors can collaborate to improve urban transportation. Here are four of Qualcomm's smart city technologies, and a few from our partners, we’re excited to present that can help transform the future of urban mobility.

Hassle-Free EV Charging

We’re avid fans of Formula E. In fact, Qualcomm Technologies is the official technology partner of the world’s first all-electric racing series, and both the BMW i8 Safety Car and the BMW i3 (on display this week) are powered by our Qualcomm Halo wireless electric vehicle charging (WEVC) technology. Our goal is to take Qualcomm Halo beyond the race track and onto roads, so that charging an electric vehicle will be as easy as parking it.

With Qualcomm Halo, electric vehicles can charge without a cord—just park over a charging pad and walk away. And if the thought of parallel parking gives you nightmares, the pad’s multi-coil design can deliver high energy-transfer efficiency and high power, even if the pads are misaligned. This solution is also very relevant for the future of autonomous vehicles. After all, how can a car be truly autonomous if someone has to physically plug it in?

Processors That Make Cars Aware

While people may be familiar with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, which has garnered a lot of praise, they may not know that Qualcomm Technologies also developed the road-ready Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Automotive family of processors. The family includes the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820A infotainment processor and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820Am, a version of the 820A with an integrated X12 LTE modem that connects drivers at fast, Category 12 speeds (download speeds up to 600 Mbps and upload speeds up to 150 Mbps).

Designed to be “future-proof,” both versions of the processor have modular designs, which makes them adaptable. An advanced GPU and CPU provide machine intelligence, video processing, and smart auto awareness engines that work together to capture a more complete picture of a car’s surroundings and make driving safer.

Talking to the Environment

For cars to become smarter, they need to be able to talk to each other and their surroundings. Qualcomm Technologies is advancing these conversations by developing dedicated short-range communications systems that can share hazard, traffic, and other information. Thanks to telematics and vehicle-to-X (V2X) technology—an umbrella term for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P), and vehicle-to-cloud (V2C) technologies—cars can avoid collisions, be notified of traffic, and spot pedestrians, all of which make driving safer and more efficient.

Extending Network Smarts

Transforming cities into smarter metropolises doesn’t require a complete overhaul. We’re improving current infrastructures to address urban challenges, such as budget constraints, pollution, and resource management, by enabling intelligent network connectivity and edge processing technology.

Edge processing allows us to shift our focus from the inefficient practice of sending large amounts of raw data through the cloud. Instead of waiting for data to travel back to a centralized hub, devices within the network are able to communicate with one another to make decisions on their own. So, for example, a group of smart traffic lights can determine how to time themselves based on traffic flow they perceive and share.

Smart-City Upgrades from Qualcomm Partners

Three of our collaborating companies will also be showcasing their visions for a smarter city. IPS Group is a design, engineering, and manufacturing company that specializes in smart city solutions, such as low-power wireless telecommunications, payment processing systems, and parking technologies. AssureNet is an insurance platform that uses transportation analytics to predict risk, prevent loss, and determine the cause of accidents. And Sensity Systems is updating LED streetlights to track real-time parking availability and provide video-based security analytics.

The Forum “Shaping the Future of Urban Mobility” meeting will be held at the Qualcomm Pac Center campus in San Diego on March 31. To learn more about the ways Qualcomm is a driving force in urban mobility, visit the Qualcomm automotive page and smart cities page.


* The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation, committed to improving the state of the world. The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. (www.weforum.org).

Qualcomm Halo WEVC technology is licensed by Qualcomm Incorporated. Qualcomm Snapdragon is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.


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