Samsung puts down $300 million bet on autonomous auto tech startups

by Leslie Wood September 15, 2017, 0:36
Samsung puts down $300 million bet on autonomous auto tech startups

Samsung's investment in TTTech is the first investment from its $300 million fund to strengthen its technology pool for autonomous driving, such as artificial intelligence and security.

In addition to the $300m fund Samsung has invested around $90m into TTTech to develop connected auto platforms and safety software.

The South Korean smartphone maker, which snapped up US -based Harman International Industries Inc. previous year for $8 billion to elbow its way into the hotly contested market for automotive tech, is betting it can marry its consumer electronics expertise with Harman's presence in dashboards all over the world.

Samsung has accelerated its involvement in automative technology but says it won't be building its own self-driving cars. Harman manufactures vehicle infotainment systems, along with "connected car-safety" technologies, including rear-view cameras.

What areas will Samsung's $300m investment fund focus on? Instead, Samsung will work with automakers and other mobility companies to "develop the next generation of automotive innovation".

Young Sohn, Samsung's chief strategy officer, and Ricky Hudi, founder and managing director of Future Mobility Technologies, have joined TTTech Auto division's new supervisory board alongside several other, unnamed industry experts. He also bears experience of working in automotive industry, and in fact worked as a former Director at a US-based self-driving vehicle company, Delphi Automotive.

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On the same day, Samsung established a new strategic business unit alongside Harman International Industries that will exclusively focus on self-driving technology and advanced driver-assistance systems.

"In partnership with OEMs and start-ups, we will make the driver and passenger experience safer, more convenient and more enjoyable".

"There is already a high demand for ADAS solutions, and that demand is rapidly growing with the advancements in connected cars and autonomous driving", said Dinesh Paliwal, President and CEO, Harman.

The autonomous driving unit will explore a wide range of elements that bring self-driving cars to the forefront, including driving algorithms and systems integration. "This strategic business unit demonstrates Samsung's and HARMAN's commitment to answer that call - to be the definitive partner for seamless and integrated technologies". Samsung said it meant to lead the "future of automotive" with the audio and auto parts supplier.

Samsung has also secured licenses for on-road testing of autonomous driving software and hardware, which is under development in South Korea and California in the US.

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