In the future, vehicles will communicate with each other, relaying key metrics to each other as they transport their passengers to their destinations — or so Qualcomm’s automotive division hopes.
The American chip giant announced on Monday the acquisition of Israeli company Autotalks, which specializes in the development of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication technologies.
As the name suggests, the technology is designed to facilitate the sharing of information between vehicles and their surroundings, helping them to operate more safely and optimally, ideally. This means things like sharing real-time information about traffic and hazards to road users, decisions made by vehicles, where people are going, etc., or so it seems to us. With this shared information, vehicles and drivers should be able to make better decisions.
Neither side disclosed terms of the deal.
This takeover isn’t too surprising when you remember that Qualcomm likes to design cellular and wireless communications chips for vehicles as well as mobile devices, so Autotalks should be a good fit for Qualy.
Autotalks has been working on V2X communication technology for nearly 15 years and has raised $100 million to date. The company’s latest platform enables “dual mode” communication across multiple V2X standards. As we understand it, dual mode refers to the use of cellular and ad-hoc networks to communicate with other vehicles.
One of the goals of the technology is to reduce the likelihood of collisions, at least with compatible vehicles.
In a statement, Qualcomm VP and GM of Automotive Technologies Nakul Duggal said the acquisition should accelerate the mass adoption of V2X technologies in cars. Qualcomm plans to integrate the technology into its Snapdragon Digital Chassis platform and claims many interested parties, including US General Motors and France’s Renault. Both automakers own several brands, so Qualcomm has a chance to get into many of the world’s cars and light trucks.
Of course, before the technology makes its way into your next EV, the deal must first clear regulatory scrutiny.
Qualcomm’s automotive business is among the largest, with the division generating about $1.4 billion in annual revenue. However, the Snapdragon designer faces stiff competition from Nvidia and Intel’s Mobileye division, both of which continue to gain a foothold among automakers and autonomous taxi services.
Automotive chips, including those used in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which V2X technology is designed to complement, remained a bright spot for many chipmakers in recent reported quarters. This performance was a nice contrast to the slowing demand for smartphones, computers, memory and other components.
Those macroeconomic headwinds hit Qualcomm’s earnings in its most recent fiscal quarter, with net income falling 42 percent to $1.704 billion. But while Qualcomm reported revenue declines in its mobile and IoT segments, its automotive division grew 20 percent year-over-year to $447 million in those three months.
It was a similar story for Qualcomm’s rivals, which also reported growth in their automotive segments. Mobileye, for example, was the only Intel division to gain ground in the quarter, racking up $458 million in revenue, a 16 percent increase from a year earlier. Meanwhile, Nvidia’s automotive division continued to post solid earnings in its most recent quarter, growing 135 percent year-over-year to $294 million in Q4. ®