US chip giant Qualcomm to buy Israeli road safety tech startup Autotalks
Autotalks chipsets that allow vehicles to ‘talk’ with one another will be integrated into Qualcomm’s safety technology platforms for automotive manufacturers
Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.
US chipmaker Qualcomm announced on Monday that it is buying Israeli startup Autotalks, a developer of smart vehicle communication systems designed to improve road safety and help prevent car collisions.
The chip designer said it entered into a definitive agreement through its subsidiary Qualcomm Technologies to acquire Autotalks for an undisclosed sum. Estimates in the Hebrew press put the price tag at between $350 million to $400 million.
The Kfar Netter-based startup develops chipsets based on sensor technology, which allows vehicles to communicate or “talk” with one another and connect to road infrastructure. The sensor can “see” around corners and through any obstacle or obstruction within a radius of up to one mile for the early detection of hazards, the startup says.
Founded in 2008, Autotalks has raised more than $150 million in total via a number of funding rounds. Investors in the Israeli chipset maker include South Korean automotive manufacturer Hyundai Motor, Japan’s Toyota and Samsung, and venture capital funds Gemini Israel Ventures and Magma Venture Partners.
The vehicle-to-everything (V2X) system developed by Autotalks uses connected car technology to warn other vehicles and their drivers of hazards before they can be seen with the aim of increasing road safety.
Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years, according to the World Health Organization. About 1.3 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes.
V2X-powered smart traffic control systems work in all environments and weather conditions. In manned vehicles, V2X systems provide the driver with alerts and notifications and can also take over operation of the vehicle in dangerous situations. In autonomous vehicles, V2X complements existing sensors.
Cars equipped with V2X systems, like Volkswagen Golf, ID.3, and ID.4, displays the alert on their infotainment screen. Toyota also is integrating V2X technology into its vehicles.
“We have been investing in V2X research, development and deployment since 2017 and believe that as the automotive market matures, a standalone V2X safety architecture will be needed for enhanced road user safety, as well as smart transportation systems,” said Nakul Duggal, senior vice president and general manager of automotive at Qualcomm Technologies. “We look forward to working together to (…) enable mass market adoption of this very important safety technology.”
Qualcomm said it is planning to integrate the Autotalks V2X system into its Snapdragon digital chassis product portfolio, the chipmaker’s set of cloud-based platforms for the automotive industry. Among the US chipmaker’s customers are VW, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, and Honda.
“We’re working closely with Qualcomm Technologies to power our next-generation vehicles with cutting-edge technology and hardware enabling premium experiences in the space of automated driving for our customers,” said Dirk Hilgenberg, CEO of VW’s software unit Cariad. “In this space, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication technologies are increasingly important and essential to ensure the safety of automotive systems, so we welcome these joint efforts.”
The US chipmaker has invested in a number of Israeli startups over the past decade. In 2022, Qualcomm bought Israel’s Cellwize Wireless Technologies. Other investments by the US chipmaker into Israeli startups include the acquisition of DesignArt Networks for $150 million in 2012 and of chipmaker Wilocity for some $300 million in 2014.
The US firm set up a $100 million venture fund in 2018 to invest in startups that use innovative artificial intelligence technology in the areas of autonomous cars, robotics and machine learning. Israel’s AnyVision, a startup that uses AI to recognize faces, bodies and objects for security, medical, and agricultural purposes, was one of the fund’s first investments.