In the past few years, we’ve seen various automakers tease wireless charging technology for electric cars, including Toyota, Honda, Renault, BMW, Nissan and Audi. Offering a world where electric cars simply park over an inductive plate on the ground and recharge their battery packs without you ever needing to plug-in, wireless inductive charging technology is seen by some as the holy grail of electric car technology, while others view it as an unnecessary distraction.
Regardless of your personal views on wireless technology however, more automakers than ever before are investigating ways of getting electrical power into a car’s battery pack without wires — and now we can add luxury brand Mercedes-Benz to the list too.
That’s because the German automaker has just announced a partnership with electronics company Qualcomm to work together on a whole host of interconnected vehicular systems, including 3G and 4G wireless connectivity, in-car wireless charging — for things like mobile telephones and tablet computers — and electric car wireless charging.
As our friends over at Autobloggreen are keen to note, this isn’t the first time that Qualcomm has signed a development agreement with a major automaker, nor is the technology itself new.
Back in 2011, Renault and Qualcomm announced a partnership to further study Qualcomm’s then brand-new halo wireless charging technology on production electric vehicles. At about the same time, Qualcomm was buy working with British engineering firm Delta Motorsports, whose lightweight Delta E4 Electric Coupe was designed to take advantage of the wireless charging technology.
It was also behind the wireless charging technology found in Rolls Royce’s 102EX all-electric Phantom prototype, as well as the 20 kilowatt wireless charging technology found in the record-breaking Drayson B12/69Ev LMP race car.
These days, Qualcomm provides wireless charging to the world of Formula E, allowing the specially-modified BMW i3 and i8 electric cars used as pace and safety cars on each race the ability to wireless charge at the end of the pit lane before launching into action if and when needed during a race.
Why is this important? Qualcomm is essentially automaker-agnostic, which puts it in a powerful position in the future electric vehicle marketplace. By working with as many different companies as possible, it not only ensures automakers are more likely to choose its Halo WEVC technology over rival wireless charging technologies, but establishes itself as the dominant standard for wirelessly charging electric vehicles across the industry.
We should note that the partnership isn’t just about wireless vehicle charging and charging for your mobile telephone, either. As anyone in the electronics industry will tell you, Qualcomm is also the company behind the famous Snapdragon mobile platform.
Used in many modern smartphones and tablet computers, the Snapdragon is essentially a fully integrated computer system on a chip, containing everything from the CPU and GPU through to wireless communications and even dedicated video encoding hardware encased in a single die. This not only makes them incredibly powerful, but also perfect for high-performance, low power applications. Applications like feature-rich on-board entertainment systems or even complex vehicular systems, for example.
It’s features like these — along with the wireless charging technology for both car and gadgets alike — which Mercedes-Benz and Qualcomm say they will develop together, resulting in what should be a better connected and more intuitive driving experience for future Mercedes-Benz plug-in owners.
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