Category Archives: Autonomous Car

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.

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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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Toyota Launches Automotive Edge Computing Consortium To Address Big Data From Connected and Self Driving Cars

The age of smart connected cars and autonomous vehicles brings with it a new challenge to the automotive industry: Big Data. Japanese auto manufacturer Toyota estimates that the data volume between vehicles and the cloud will reach 10 exabytes (10.7 billion Gigabytes) per month till the year 2025, which is approximately 10,000 times larger than the present volume. This sort of big data challenge calls for Edge Computing.

This challenge brought Toyota to team up with Japanese auto parts maker Denso Corp, Japanese telecoms NTT, Intel and Ericsson to form the Automotive Edge Computing Consortium which was announced a few days ago. This consortium will

develop an ecosystem for connected cars to support emerging services such as intelligent driving and transport, creating of maps with real-time data as well as driving assistance based on cloud computing.

The consortium will use Edge Computing and network design to accommodate automotive big data in a reasonable fashion between vehicles and the cloud.

Last March Toyota showed off its first autonomous test vehicle developed entirely by Toyota Research Institute, following GoogleTeslaUber and others in the race to disrupt transportation. Even consortium member Intel announced last week starting to build a fleet of fully autonomous (level 4 SAE) test cars, based on its acquisition of Mobileye earlier this year.

Toyota states its exploration of autonomous vehicles dates back as far as 2005. Now with edge computing architecture it can also face the associated big data challenge.

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Filed under Autonomous Car, Big Data, Cloud, Edge Computing, Internet of Things, IoT

Google’s Self-Driving Cars To Become A Stand-Alone Business

Google is shifting gear with its self-driving car project. The project, which has been run as part of Google X research lab, has spun out into its own business unit under Google’s parent company Alphabet. According to Wall Street Journal, the car group would likely be expected to soon begin generating revenue, though not necessarily a profit at first. X chief Astro Teller told WSJ that Alphabet will likely roll out its self-driving cars incrementally over the next several years as they improve with more time on the road.

This is another move in the race to the holy grail of a fully operational autonomous car. Google keeps a special watch over Uber’s aggressive self-driving car plans, with its plans to disrupt transportation. While Google’s cars have been driving around Google’s home town in Mountain View CA and other US cities, Uber has been swinging through Pittsburgh. And they’re not alone in this race. In fact, you find surprising newcomers each day: Just today Samsung acquired U.S. auto-parts supplier Harman for $8 Billion to get onboard with connected cars, probably as part of Samsung’s Internet of Things (IoT) strategy. When the lines blur between cars, mobile and online services, when transportation is up for disruption, everyone is out for the take.

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The Uber Plan To Disrupt Transportation

Uber has become the trademark for sharing economy. It’s the proverbial social win-win formula: You want to get somewhere, a driver is heading there, so he picks you up, and earns a friendly fee on the way.

But in fact Uber’s vision isn’t really about sharing economy. In fact, the “human factor” of the drivers is pretty messy for Uber: it involves costs, labor laws, contractual engagements, assault incidents, lawsuits… Uber would rather eliminate the “human factor” altogether. It has a whole other plan for us. And the plan goes through:

Autonomous cars!

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Which plan? Sit back and take a quick tour into our daily lives in the (not-so-distant) future:

You don’t own a car, you consume a service. car-as-a-service. Need a ride? Just tap your smart phone/watch/skin, and a ride will come and pick you up from your GPS-detected location, and you’ll be charged just for that ride. Just like electricity or water. no need for a large capital expense for purchasing a car, and extra cost for insurance, regular checkups and fixes for a car that sits idle most of the day. you’re not in the business of car fleets, you just need a ride.

This will also disrupt the automotive industry: the car design will no longer revolve around the driving experience. there simply is no driver now, remember? the car is now a ride service robot, and the focus is shifted to the passenger’s quality of experience. Now that the rider has his hands (and attention) free, focus will shift to making the ride more informative, more entertaining, more productive, with multimedia, games, work tools, with automated analytics learning the needs of the passenger, perhaps even offering some interesting goods… reminds you a bit of Google? Why isn’t that surprising…

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This is not Sci Fi. This is a concrete plan taking shape as we speak. Last Thursday Uber announced acquiring Otto, an Israeli startup less than a year old headed by ex-Googlers, which provides technology that turns regular trucks into driverless (autonomous) ones. In parallel Uber announced moving into commercial stage with its autonomous cars initiative, launching a pilot in the city of Pittsburgh.

Uber isn’t the only one setting eyes on this mark. Traditional car manufacturers such as GM, Ford and Fiat (jointly with Google) have also identified the upcoming disruption and are also racing to the commercial autonomous car. In fact, just a day before Uber’s acquisition Ford announced acquiring another Israeli startup, SAIPS, as well as investing $75 Million in startup Velodyne, both aimed to boost its autonomous car project.

We’re heading to a brave new world. So sit back and enjoy the ride.

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