MWC 2016: F1 champ talks driverless cars

Qualcomm and Mercedes take to stage with F1 winner to discuss how technology can change F1 and everyday driving

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MWC 2016: F1 champ talks driverless cars Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton discussed Wi-Fi connectivity in racing cars at MWC
By  Aasha Bodhani Published  February 25, 2016

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Qualcomm took the opportunity to discuss connected, electric and self-driving cars with Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton.

During the keynote, Qualcomm's president Derek Aberle said: "The car of the future is going to be very different and the way that you interact with it is going to be very different than it is today."

Qualcomm, a sponsor of Mercedes F1 vehicles, already is a technical contributor to Mercedes, where its telemetry system collects data from the car, but Qualcomm's Aberle confirmed the Wi-Fi upgrade means it can now work on a larger scale.

Aberle was joined on stage by Paddy Lowe, executive director of the Mercedes AMG Petronas racing team, as well as F1 champion Lewis Hamilton.

"I think it's exciting," Hamilton said. He added that whilst autonomous vehicle could potentially replace human drivers on traditional roads, he is not worried about them taking his place behind the wheel.

Hamilton spoke about Qualcomm's upgrade to its telemetry system and said the Wi-Fi connectivity in the car is most beneficial. It enables Mercedes AMG Petronas engineers to easily and quickly download important data from it, such as the temperature from all tires.

"Seeing how the tires are working is key," Hamilton said. "In the past you had to wait for the car to get plugged in and download that data, now it transmits over Wi-Fi. It's incredible how quick the turnaround is now. " 

This process now provides more data and saves the driver's time when doing test laps as they do not have to wait 30 minutes for engineers to gather that information.

Qualcomm's Aberle added: "The environment [F1] can be pretty harsh. If you can make things work there then they can become commercialised over time. A lot of things happening in motorsport eventually make their way into commercial vehicles."

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