GM taps three Qualcomm chips to power its Ultra Cruise feature

General Motors said Thursday that three chips from Qualcomm will power the “Ultra Cruise” driver-assistance feature in the luxury Cadillac sedan next year.

Qualcomm chips will provide computing power for the company’s planned flagship sedan, the all-electric Celestiq. The automaker says Ultra Cruise will allow for hands-free driving on both surface roads and freeways in the United States and Canada, beyond GM’s current Super Cruise feature, which only works on highways.

Jason Dittman, Ultra Cruise’s chief engineer, said, “It’s a supervised system, so you still have to pay attention. But essentially what we’re doing is providing the driver with a hands-free experience across a large domain.” “

At the center of the system would be a computer the size of two laptops at once. GM will provide the software to make the system work, and Qualcomm is providing the key chips — two processor chips and then one chip designed to speed up specific tasks.

The deal marks a milestone for Qualcomm, which dominates chips for mobile phones and is diversifying its business. Although Qualcomm has several deals with automakers to provide chips for the infotainment center and 5G connectivity, GM is the first automaker to use Qualcomm’s “Snapdragon Ride” chips for self-driving features.

Qualcomm is competing against rivals such as Nvidia and Intel’s Mobileye to win deals with automakers for self-driving chips. The energy efficiency of chips is a key requirement for automakers in electric vehicles, where computers must compete with the drive train for limited battery life.

Qualcomm is aiming to use its history-making chips for phones where battery life is a major selling point to woo automakers. GM’s Dittmann won’t disclose how much power the Ultra Cruise computer uses, but the device is air-cooled, meaning the chips consume less power and generate less heat than rival offerings that have been called liquid cooling. Is required.

“We are very aware of what our electricity consumption is,” Dittmann said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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