Samsung Boosts Autonomous Driving Investment With $300 Million Fund And A Strategic Business Unit

Samsung’s acquisition of auto parts maker Harman earlier this year was just the beginning. Now Samsung is establishing a strategic business unit under Harman’s Connected Car division, focused on Autonomous and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). This follows a similar move by Google, which formalized its autonomous vehicle research in a business unit late last year, about the same time the Harman acquisition was conceived.

The new strategic business unit will focus on engineering, high-performance computing, sensor technologies, algorithms, artificial intelligence, as well as connectivity and cloud solutions. I may speculate that this would ultimately connect also to Samsung’s Internet of Things (IoT) offering with its IoT cloud and connectivity solutions.

In addition, Samsung is launching a new $300-million fund focused on connected car and autonomous technologies. With the new fund Samsung plans to invest in automotive start-ups and technology. The fund has already made its first investment of €75 million in TTTech, a startup focusing in safety and reliability of networked computer systems. With these moves Samsung clearly marks it is joining the race to disrupt transportation. According to Young Sohn, President and Chief Strategy Officer of Samsung Electronics and Chairman of the Board of HARMAN in the PR:

The Autonomous/ADAS Strategic Business Unit and automotive fund reflect the company’s commitment to the values of open innovation and collaboration. In partnership with OEMs and startups, we will make the driver and passenger experience safer, more convenient, and more enjoyable.

Last month Samsung got approval to test self-driving cars in California, after receiving a similar approval in its home country of South Korea a few months before.

HARMAN_main-1

Samsung is not alone in this race. Its competitor Intel has also been investing heavily in autonomous and connected cars with the Mobileye acquisition earlier this year and the foundation of the new Automotive Edge Computing Consortium last month together with Toyota, Denso Corp, NTT and Ericsson. Qualcomm is also eyeing merger with automotive chip maker giant NXP Semiconductors (50% bigger than its closer competitor in the Automotive Industry), which currently seems to be blocked by competitors and regulators.

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