Anyone with a driving job should be worried. The writing is on the wall: the future of transportation is in self-driving autonomous vehicles. Many logistics companies are already testing autonomous vehicles and preparing for a day when all of their vehicles will be self-driving. It won’t just be truck drivers who are replaced, though. Self-driving ships and self-flying airplanes of all sizes will soon be the norm, while even bike couriers or mail carriers will likely be replaced by small drones. Some of the biggest names in tech including Google are investing significant resources in autonomous vehicles, and it won’t be long before self-driving vehicles join us on the roads. To help speed that process up, electronics manufacturer Qualcomm was just this week given the go-ahead to begin testing its autonomous vehicle technology on California’s public roads and highways.
In a recent interview with CNBC, Qualcomm’s vice president of product management for automotive Nakul Duggal says the company expects “to be a key player in the autonomous space” within in the next few years, but wouldn’t comment on any specific products or technologies being developed. It’s likely the semiconductor and telecommunications equipment manufacturer won’t be building their own self-driving cars, but instead will be designing the chips and communications technology that will enable autonomous transportation networks.
Qualcomm recently unveiled the 9150 C-V2X chipset in September which allows autonomous vehicles to communicate with one another and with intelligent infrastructure like stop lights. By communicating to surrounding cars, the chips will enable self-driving vehicles to significantly reduce accidents. Those chips will be tested on California’s autonomous-vehicle-friendly roads, but testing will soon be expanded to other states as well as China, Germany, Italy, and Japan. Several Ford models already have the chips as standard equipment, and Qualcomm plans to expand its offering to other makers soon.