BMW has specified the cooperation with Qualcomm and Arriver for assisted and automated driving according to Level 2+ and Level 3 and wants to introduce the platform to customers in 2025. The new solutions comply with the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) and build on the developments of the partnership with Intel and Mobileye.
In November last year, Qualcomm announced that it would supply the Snapdragon Ride platform to BMW for level 2+ and level 3 assisted and automated driving in the future. Arriver will also play an important role in this cooperation. The Swedish company was a spin-off from Autoliv's electronics division and was acquired by Qualcomm for $4.5 billion last fall. Arriver brings to the partnership a software stack for perception and driving maneuvers. This stack, in turn, runs on the Snapdragon Ride Vision SoC that Qualcomm announced at CES in January.
The end for Intel and Mobileye
At the same time, the cooperation with Qualcomm and Arriver means the imminent end of the partnership with Intel and Mobileye at BMW. Dr. Nicolai Martin, Head of Automated Driving Development at the BMW Group, confirmed this in an interview following the announcement.
Introduction 2025 with the "New Class"
However, the new cooperation does not lead to an immediate end, rather chips and technologies from Intel and Mobileye continue to be used on the existing platforms, only from 2025 is a "new class", as vehicles were called in the 60s and 70s, the Introduce Qualcomm and Arriver hardware and software. From the middle of the decade, the "New Class" is considered the next big step by BMW, following the iX and its innovations, which is to introduce a new IT and software architecture and a new electric drive and battery generation.
Extended cooperation aims at L2+ and L3 (Image: BMW)
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Building on previous achievements
The new cooperation is to build on achievements from the partnership with Intel and Mobileye. The software does not have to be started from scratch, and the data center for autonomous driving, which was inaugurated three years ago near the Autonomous Driving Campus, can continue to be used. The capacities of this data center have been doubled since the start, said Martin.
Qualcomm wants to deliver twice the efficiency
In addition to the new Snapdragon Ride Vision SoC, BMW also wants to use a compute SoC controller from the Snapdragon Ride platform at Qualcomm. Qualcomm presented this family of chips with different levels of performance in several expansion stages at CES 2020 and further specified it a year later. The solutions scale from 10 TOPS to over 700 TOPS and can also consist of pairs of multiple ADAS controllers and accelerators. The bottom line is that Snapdragon Ride should beat Nvidia's current Orin solution with twice the efficiency. Mercedes-Benz, for example, will be a prominent buyer of Drive AGX Orin from 2024. Although it was not disclosed which chips BMW will use from 2025, Nakul Duggal, Senior Vice President and General Manager Automotive at Qualcomm, said that the built-in solutions would always offer room for improvement in terms of performance.
Planned tiers of Snapdragon Ride (Image: Qualcomm)
Specifically, BMW wants to offer Level 2+ and Level 3 solutions for customers. BMW already offers Level 2+ in the USA on highways in traffic jams up to 64 km/h, but with the Qualcomm platform this should be possible from address to address for the entire journey. Level 3 is to follow later, which no longer requires the driver to keep an eye on the traffic at all times. At level 3, however, the driver must still be able to take over manual vehicle control again within a certain period of time. With the Drive Pilot from Mercedes-Benz, which should be ready for the market in the first half of the year, this period is 10 seconds. Level 3 is to be gradually expanded in terms of ODD (Operational Design Domain), i.e. availability according to route, weather and other conditions, at BMW in terms of the range of functions.
New 7er should already master level 3
The costs these systems will result in for customers have not yet been decided. However, it will come down to the fact that the basic capability for Level 2+ will already be on board ex works and the customer can decide whether the function should be purchased directly with the vehicle or afterwards. This means the well-known Functions on Demand, which BMW recently introduced for assistance systems in the new 2 Series Active Tourer (test). For Level 3, an extended hardware package has to be purchased that cannot be unlocked afterwards. Such a package is also potentially reserved for a higher vehicle class. Speaking of the premium segment: the new 7 series, which will also be presented as an i7 later this year, will also support Level 3 at a later date, although the new partnership has not yet come to fruition there.