Qualcomm Teams With TomTom On Maps Powering Self-Driving Cars

The future of autonomous vehicles increasingly seems to belong to carmakers and the location-tech companies who have the intelligence behind it.

Qualcomm Technologies is working with Dutch navigation software company TomTom to create a cloud-based, Waze-like crowdsourced high-definition maps for self-driving cars.

The collaborative project on advancing self-driving tools is meant to build on individual areas that TomTom and Qualcomm Technologies, the engineering and research unit with the larger mobile device maker, have been working on respectively.

Autonomous Vehicle Alliances

Both have been working independently on a range of offerings for the connected car and on ancillary services for current self-driving car programs. For example, last summer, Uber began working with Tom Tom to use parts of the Dutch company’s navigation technology after the ride-hailing giant failed to acquire former Nokia location platform Here.

As Uber comes under fire for its internal cultural issues as well as questions about its aggressive pursuit of self-driving cars (whether angering municipalities for not obeying local laws to an explosive lawsuit from Google alleging the transferring of proprietary secrets), the idea of autonomous cars becoming a widely accepted reality in the near future seems a bit more uncertain.

Considering the current challenges Uber and Google have experienced lately as the most high-profile proponents of self-driving technology, it appears that advancements will need to be made on several fronts. And that means mobile device players like Qualcomm Technologies and location-based business services providers TomTom.

The current thinking is that as the major car companies ramp up investments in smart cars/connected cars, the automakers themselves will be the ones to determine the path of autonomous vehicles coming to market — not the Silicon Valley companies.

Carmakers Take Control

Given that scenario, by providing an open platform involving location intelligence and mapping that can be available to automotive companies and others, Qualcomm Technologies and TomTom can parlay their respective access to geo-data is embedded in connected devices into working with a range of entities behind self-driving cars.

So as the landscape around autonomous vehicles and connected cars continues to take shape, the alliance between Qualcomm Technologies and TomTom will be one of many over the next year.

As for the specifics of the collaboration, the project involves Qualcomm Technologies’ Drive Data, which is a platform for car sensor analysis. The DRive Data delivers, among other things, map snippets based on camera views looking out on the road.

That feeds into TomTom’s HD Map, which includes RoadDNA, to help autonomous vehicles precisely locate themselves on the road and plan maneuvers. TomTom’s HD Map can use the Qualcomm map snippets for maintenance.

“We are building the cloud-based platform to make and maintain HD maps using a range of input sources, including crowdsourced data,” says Willem Strijbosch, Head of Autonomous Driving, TomTom, in the announcement timed for the Mobile World Congress that’s happening this week. “We’re excited to explore the connectivity and compute capabilities of the Qualcomm Drive Data Platform to help map the world for the future of driving.”

“Qualcomm Technologies is showing that an affordable and easy-to-integrate mapping solution for autonomous vehicles is possible,” adds Nakul Duggal, VP automotive for Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “The Qualcomm Drive Data Platform supports autonomous driving functions in the car, and we are pleased to make this technology available for HD Map providers such as TomTom as well as automakers, shared mobility service providers and the automotive industry at large.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.