The world's No. 1 chip and handset maker, Samsung has embarked on a new autonomous driving business by announcing the creation of a new fund Wednesday.
The first funding worth 75 million euros (US$89 million) will go to Austria's TTTech, a global leader on advanced driver assistance systems, more widely known as ADAS.
As part of today's $300 million fund announcement, Samsung also announced a tie-up with its Harman subsidiary to create a new entity it's calling the Autonomous/ADAS Strategic Business Unit (SBU), which is geared toward "developing innovations for next-generation, smart, connected vehicles", according to a statement issued by the companies.
Samsung's two biggest rivals have also moved into the connected vehicle market over the past year, at greater cost: Intel Corp paid US$15.3bil (RM64.28bil) last month to acquire Mobileye, the current market leader in collision-detection ADAS software, while Qualcomm Inc is seeking regulatory approval for its US$47bil (RM197.23bil) deal to buy NXP Semiconductors NV, the world's biggest maker of automotive-grade chips.
"The Autonomous/ADAS Strategic Business Unit and automotive fund reflect the company's commitment to the values of open innovation and collaboration", said Young Sohn, president and chief strategy officer of Samsung and Harman's board chairman. Absmeier will retain his current job as head of smart machines for the Samsung Strategy and Innovation Centre in Silicon Valley.
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TTTech plans to use Samsung's investment to accelerate the growth of its safety technology for autonomous driving and operations.
Samsung has secured licenses for on-road testing of autonomous driving software and hardware under development in South Korea and California.
"In the meantime, though, I'd expect to see a variety of clever implementations and pilots to test the waters".
The autonomous technologies include smart sensors, machine vision, artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, connectivity solutions, automotive-grade safety solutions, security and privacy.
Sohn sought to distinguish his strategy from other consumer tech companies including Alphabet Inc's Waymo by underlining that Samsung had no plans to make cars itself but instead would work as a tech ally for auto makers.
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