Qualcomm honing vertical focus on automotive, robotics and industrial IoT
5G as the ‘nervous system’ for the industrial IoT
BARCELONA–Qualcomm is a major force in not just the modems and other components that power smartphones but also in the processes that gives us standards like Wi-Fi, LTE and 5G NR. Given that pedigree, coupled with the massive opportunities associated with supporting the expansion of the internet of things, it’s only natural the San Diego-based company is leveraging its mobility expertise to drive digital transformation in high-value verticals.
This week during Mobile World Congress Barcelona, Qualcomm made a number of announcements that speak to its increasingly diversified products and market reach, including a research partnership with German industrial giant Bosch, a new platform for industrial robotics, and new Wi-Fi and cellular-based products for in-vehicle connectivity.
One of the key use cases associated with the 5G New Radio standard is ultra reliable low latency communications, which is being fleshed out for codification with Release 16. URLLC takes advantage of the high speeds, low latency and reliability of 5G to do things like wirelessly provide precision control of industrial equipment, a linch pin of the Industry 4.0 movement.
Qualcomm and Bosch have already worked together to study the characteristics of radio propagation in industrial environments and now are planning an over-the-air test of how 5G NR can support industrial IoT applications within one of Bosch’s manufacturing facilities. The two companies are also members of the 5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation.
Andreas Mueller, head of communication and network technology, Bosch Corporate Research, described Industry 4.0 and 5G as “a perfect combination to drive the OT/IT convergence for industrial IoT and will essentially act as the central nervous system of the factory of the future.”
Specific to the advanced robotics that will ultimately enable lights-out factories, the company’s new Qualcomm Robotics RB3 Platform comprises hardware, software and other tools to help industrial developers push the boundaries of connected systems. The integrated SoC, which will evolve to support 5G NR later in 2019, supports LTE and, for the U.S. market, CBRS–the shared spectrum set to support private networks.
Rolling into the automotive space, Qualcomm is a pioneer in C-V2X, which will allow vehicles to connect to one another, pedestrians, the cloud, smart infrastructure…everything. As automakers rally behind C-V2x, Qualcomm expects to sample the Snapdragon Automotive 4G and 5G Platforms later in 2019 with OEMs planning for production in the 2021 timeframe. The platforms feature the RF front-end technologies needed to enable vehicular connectivity at a global scale.
As to Wi-Fi, Qualcomm unveiled a new chip that supports Wi-Fi 6, the brand name given to the IEEE’s 802.11ac iteration of Wi-Fi. Expect the QCA6696 to create a gigabit vehicular hot spot, which can power multi-screen video streaming in UHD, back up cameras and other bandwidth-dependent functions.
Qualcomm’s Nakul Duggal, SVP of product management described Wi-Fi 6 “as an integral part of the connectivity evolution, as it enables seamless connections, across multiple devices, and in congest environments.”