Qualcomm Partners with Ford in First U.S. Road Tests of Connected Car Technology

By Chester Dawson Features Dow Jones Newswires

Qualcomm Inc. said Tuesday it will begin the first road tests in the U.S. of a connected car technology being developed in partnership with Ford Motor Co. and a pair of telecom partners, a project designed to link vehicles to one another and roadside infrastructure.

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The chipmaker said the pilot program will start later this year on designated public roads near San Diego and allow cars embedded with cellular modems to communicate with one another and infrastructure such as traffic signals. It is designed to test applications in automated driving, accident prevention and improved traffic flow as a precursor to commercialization around the turn of the decade.

"We hope to see some level of deployment in the mid- to late-2019 time frame," Nakul Duggal, a vice president in charge of automotive product management at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., said in an interview.

Mr. Duggal said "multiple auto makers" have expressed interest in observing or joining the testing program.

Car makers have begun to embrace cellular modems as a way to update their vehicles' increasingly complex software over-the-air. It also could allow data sharing to update public road conditions, provide drivers with advanced car diagnostic information and allow third party providers to market services. But critics worry it could expose cars to unauthorized data breaches.

The project will use a proprietary chipset made by Qualcomm for cellular-based connected vehicles, called C-V2X, a longer-range challenger to an existing Wi-Fi-based standard linking cars that is known as dedicated short-range communications, or DSRC.

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In addition to Ford, which will supply the vehicles, AT&T Inc. and Nokia Corp. will also participate, along with local government and other partners, the companies said. AT&T will provide the cellular network and Nokia will contribute cloud computing know-how.

"C-V2X provides a reassuring path to technology advancements necessary to support emerging developments in autonomy, automated driving, and mobility," Don Butler, Ford's executive director of connected vehicle and services, said in a statement.

Earlier this year, another C-V2X consortium including Vodaphone Group PLC, Huawei Technologies Co. and Robert Bosch GmbH announced trials of similar connected car technology in Europe using vehicles from Volkswagen AG premium car brand Audi.

Write to Chester Dawson at chester.dawson@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 31, 2017 09:14 ET (13:14 GMT)