Qualcomm Announces its Next-Gen Powerline Device for ‘Smart Grid EV Charging' and Vehicle Communications

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【Summary】​Semiconductor and wireless communications developer Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. continues its push into the automotive space with new hardware. Qualcomm announced its next-generation powerline communication (PLC) device called the QCA7006AQ. It's designed to address the needs for electric vehicle (EV) charging station communications between a vehicle and the power gird.

Eric Walz    Jun 30, 2022 1:40 PM PT
Qualcomm Announces its Next-Gen Powerline Device for ‘Smart Grid EV Charging' and Vehicle Communications

Semiconductor and wireless communications developer Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. continues its push into the automotive space with new hardware that allows automakers to offer advanced safety features and build internet connected vehicles. 

The company's latest hardware is designed to manage smart grid communications technology at electric vehicle charging stations, which the company says will help support the growing electric vehicle (EV) market.

Qualcomm today announced its next-generation powerline communication (PLC) device called the QCA7006AQ. Its designed to address the needs for electric vehicle (EV) charging station communications or electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) using the global Combined Charging System (CCS) plug. 

PLC technology allows for data communication over power lines. By using a power line as a communication network, it is possible to build a bidirectional communication system at a low cost, which makes its easier to scale the technology at public EV charging stations.

The PLC device is based on Qualcomm's QCA700X family of products, which are widely used for the on-board charging units in EVs and charging stations across the globe. 

Other applications for the QCA7006AQ are for smart meters, energy management systems, programmable controlled thermostats, remote metering devices, solar panels and other industrial applications.

The QCA7006AQ is also compliant with the HomePlug Green PHY (HPGP) networking standards, which is the leading specification for implementing Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) systems. 

V2G charging technology allows EV to communicate with the power grid to return electricity during peak times or by automatically throttling a vehicle's charging rate depending on the current electrical loads on the grid. While a vehicle is parked for example, electricity can flow bidirectional, from the electric distribution network and back.  

The HPGP standard was developed to allow this type of advanced communication between electric vehicles and EV chargers connected to the grid. This more advanced form of communication supports load balancing during peak charging times, as well as facilitating embedded payment processing whenever an EV is connected to a public charger.

The QCA7006AQ smart-grid integration allows vehicles to securely authenticate on the network for EV charging, coordinating the timing and flow of energy to and from the grid and from a home. 

In addition, smart-grid charging applications supported by the CCS standard allows EV drivers the flexibility to choose optimal off-peak charging times and extract energy from their vehicles as needed. The technology supports the growing need for EV charging while at the same time minimizing peak load power generation and distribution requirements, according to Qualcomm.

The automotive-grade QCA700X PLC is Qualcomm's first device designed to support an Ethernet digital interface. It qualified to work in temperatures ranging from -40°C to +105°C. 

The QCA7006AQ also supports HomePlug Audio Video (HPAV) streaming at PHY rate exceeding 200 Mbps as an option, allowing EV customers an alternate wired data connection to the cloud via the EV charger. 

Qualcomm's introduction of the Ethernet digital interface in the QCA700X PLC, along with an industry standard Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) and the HPAV operation mode, supports expanded flexibility for future use cases. 

"By further expanding our PLC device portfolio, in addition to engineering the fully integrated, scalable Snapdragon Digital Chassis solution for automakers, Qualcomm Technologies is supporting an evolving automotive industry driven by the EV vehicle architecture," said Lars Boeryd, Sr. Director Product Marketing, Automotive at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. "As a leading supplier of PLC HPGP devices for smart-grid communications, we are committed to helping our customers succeed in a growing EV industry increasingly adopting the CCS standard."

Ford Motor Co introduced a similar bi-directional power technology for the new F-150 Lightning electric truck. In partnership with solar company Sunrun, Ford's optional Intelligent Backup Power Home Integration System allows Ford F-150 Lightning owners to use their truck's substantial battery reserves as their home's emergency power source, keeping vital necessities up and running, such as lights, heating and air conditioning systems and refrigerators. 

Ford said it will introduce additional F-150 Lightning features in the future to help customers save money and take pressure off the electric grid during peak usage. For example, Ford Intelligent Power will one day allow customers to power their homes with their truck's battery when electricity rates are higher, while charging the truck when rates are lower.

In addition to its core communications technology, Qualcomm is also developing advanced hardware to support vehicle advanced driver assist systems and automated driving. The company's recent push into the automotive space comes as more vehicles are being equipped with 4 and 5G connectivity features and automated driving capabilities.

In February, Qualcomm announced a multi-year collaboration with automaker Stellantis to add high-performance compute power to millions of vehicles. Stellantis will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon "Digital Chassis" platform to deliver intelligent, customizable and immersive in-vehicle experiences to future vehicles. 

Qualcomm's Digital Chassis is a connected vehicle platform that supports the development and delivery of new cloud-connected digital services. The company unveiled the new platform in February. It's one of the industry's most advanced, scalable and fully customizable ADAS platforms available to automakers.

Vehicle's with the Digital Chassis will be connected to the cloud nearly 100% of the time and continually process information from their surroundings. Interacting with vehicle systems will also be more immersive and entertaining.

Eventually the Snapdragon-powered Digital Chassis will be installed in millions of vehicles across Stellantis' 14 automotive brands beginning in 2024.  The vehicles will also leverage the platform's 5G communications capabilities for vehicle telematics systems. 

Earlier this month, Volkswagen Group's software company CARIAD announced it selected Qualcomm Technologies to supply system-on-chips (SoCs) for its vehicle software platform designed to deliver up to SAE level-4 autonomous driving capabilities in the automaker's future vehicles.

The QCA7006AQ is planned to be in production by early Q4 2022, but Qualcomm said that samples are already available.

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