LG & Qualcomm Partner for Connected-Car Advancement
The connected car, which will eventually be the autonomous car, has created new opportunities for major corporations across the globe. After all, with the forecasts predicting over $100 billion across the globe being thrown at R&D and new technologies, everyone wants a piece of the pie – which can make for some unusual bedfellows. A few months back, we discussed how MobilEye, BMW Group and FCA entered into an agreement. Now, technology conglomerate LG is joining telecommunications expert Qualcomm for next-generation connected-car solutions. The two companies will also establish a joint research center in South Korea to develop 5G for vehicle and C-V2X (Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything) technologies essential to the success of next-generation autonomous vehicles. The main thrust is technology that allows other vehicles, and the road itself, to become ‘smart.’
“LG plans to lead the next-generation vehicle components market by combining our experience in automotive communication technologies with Qualcomm’s advanced connected solutions from LTE to 5G,” Kim Jin-yong, executive vice president of LG’s Vehicle Components Smart Business Unit, noted. “We are optimistic that the combined research strength of Qualcomm and LG will yield benefits that would not be feasible working independently.” Which is the only way the future connected car and autonomous vehicle will work. All sorts of companies are going to have to work together – from raw steel foundry operators to municipalities issuing the first Level 5 autonomous vehicle licenses.
The Cross-Over Platform
We were able to speak directly to Ken Hong, LG’s director of global communications, about the plan. Previously, LG had entered into a partnership with Volkswagen to develop a connected-car platform that we are excited about. It is called the Cross-Over Platform. The goal is to offer drivers a seamless transition from car to home technologies. Imagine having the ability to control and monitor smart devices in the home, such as lights and security systems, while on the commute. Heck, you could even tell your LG oven to start warming up, depending on traffic conditions, and if you want to stop at the store before heading home. Hong said they are working on the project, but there is no news to report yet: “The partnership initiative which LG announced last year is still in its early stage so there isn't much we can say at this moment. We will be sure to announce any significant news in due time.” It will be interesting to see how it compares to other IoT vehicle partnerships such as Ford and Amazon’s Alexa.
LG has already been providing infotainment products for VW, and quietly behind the scenes, has become a Tier 1 supplier for General Motors. They are one of LG’s key customers.
Aside from infotainment units, LG is also a knowledgeable manufacturer of smartphones. We asked Hong how that positions LG to give them an advantage in the vehicle. He said, “Making the smart car/connected car experience more convenient and intuitive is the key goal for many automotive and technology companies so there certainly isn't a lack of good competitors trying to do the same thing. But for us, the challenge isn't to put these functionalities into the mobile phone, but how to transform the vehicle to become a mobile device. This is where LG and partner Qualcomm's expertise will be most useful.” In other words, it is one thing to add Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to an operating system. It is another to have the vehicle itself become a device on a greater network to increase productivity, fuel economy, and even relaxation time.
V2V & V2X: Next Steps
In the world of the connected car, the next step is V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) and V2X (vehicle to infrastructure) communications. Cars need to talk to other vehicles as well as the road itself! We actually envision some of these products being sold to municipalities to create the ‘smart road.’ “We hope one of the outcomes of the partnership with Qualcomm is having a clearer vision of where both companies can both deliver the most value,” Hong said. “Qualcomm isn't just a chip company, it has been a leading player in the mobile industry for decades while LG manufactures hundreds of products and components across numerous industries. So anything is possible. LG’s top priority at the moment is focused on IoT and smart products, so it isn’t a huge leap to think that we could, at some point, be a key player in C-V2X. The fact that LG infotainment systems are already installed in millions of vehicles worldwide gives us a very big head start.”
Nakul Duggal, vice president of product management for Qualcomm, said, “Building on our long-standing relationship with LG, this effort to advance C-V2X technology further demonstrates our continued commitment to the development of advanced solutions for safe, connected and increasingly autonomous vehicles. With the automotive industry on a clear path to 5G, we look forward to working together with LG to meet the demands of today’s drivers and advance the commercialization of C-V2X technology in next-gen vehicles.”