Qualcomm Given Permission to Test Self-Driving Tech in CA

Now that Qualcomm has been given the green light to test its self-driving technology, perhaps we'll see autonomous cars available in the near future.

Qualcomm, maker of the popular Snapdragon line of mobile processors, may soon test its self-driving technology on California’s public roads. As explained by Digital Trends, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) granted Qualcomm a permit to test a single vehicle on December 12.

Self-driving cars were once viewed as science fiction, appearing only in movies and television shows. Today, however, it’s not a question of if it will happen but when. According to Safer-America, 94 percent of all automobile accidents in the United States are attributed to human error. By developing autonomous driving technology, experts believe we could significantly reduce the number of car accidents that occur on U.S. roads.

Now that Qualcomm has been given the green light to test its self-driving technology, perhaps we’ll see autonomous cars available in the near future. Of course, Qualcomm isn’t alone in its pursuit of self-driving technology. Nearly a dozen other companies are developing their own self-driving technology, including Honda, BMW, Volkswagen, Uber Apple, Tesla Motors and Waymo.

According to TheVerge, Waymo — a subsidiary of Google Alphabet — was the first company to successfully place self-driving vehicles on the road without a backup driver. Normally, self-driving cars have a backup driver in the passenger seat in case something goes awry. If this individual spots a potential hazard, he or she can take manual action to avoid it. Waymo, however, has been running a fleet of self-driving vans in Arizona since October, all without a backup driver.

When you think of companies on the front lines of self-driving technology, Qualcomm probably doesn’t come to mind. After all, Qualcomm specializes in mobile processors, not automobiles. Nonetheless, Qualcomm could play a major role in the future of autonomous driving technology. The company isn’t seeking to develop its own car. Rather, Qualcomm is looking to build a chipset that will serve as the brain for self-driving technology.

Qualcomm is currently developing a new chipset designed specifically for self-driving cars. Once installed, the chipset offers a full 360-degree awareness that doesn’t require line of sight. This means traditional obstacles like pedestrians, median dividers and other vehicles won’t interfere with the car’s technology. Furthermore, Qualcomm’s new chipset is designed to communicate with other self-driving cars featuring the same technology as well as traffic lights.

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