Samsung Enters Autonomous Driving Race With New Business, Funding

Harman, best known for its consumer audio speakers, derives 65 percent of sales from its automotive business, supplying navigation services, on-board entertainment systems and vehicle networks that put it at the intersection of connected cars and mobile networks.

Auto industry veteran John Absmeier, who before joining Samsung in 2015 ran a pioneering autonomous driving programme at U.S. tier 1 auto supplier Delphi Automotive Plc, has been named senior vice president of the Samsung automotive business unit. Absmeier will retain his current job as head of smart machines for the Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center in Silicon Valley.

Sohn said the Autonomous/ADAS business unit will absorb hundreds of engineers Samsung already has working on autonomous driving technologies.

In recent months, Samsung has secured licenses for autonomous driving pilot projects in South Korea and California.

PIECING TOGETHER A STRATEGY

Strategy Analytics automotive analyst Roger Lanctot said Samsung is ideally placed to pull together consumer electronics, mobile devices and auto technology, but that entering the market will take time. Samsung has indicated that a 2020 time horizon is reasonable for its strategy to come together, he said.

“In the meantime, though, I’d expect to see a variety of clever implementations and pilots to test the waters.”

While there is no coherent industry vision yet for what a connected car exactly means, creating openings for them, Harman and Samsung must move quickly in a market where vehicle design cycles can take anywhere from three to five years, he noted.

Over the next two to three years, the new Samsung Automotive Innovation Fund will invest in a range of connected car areas including sensors, machine vision, artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, cloud services, mobile connectivity, automotive-grade safety and security, the company said.

The first investment will be 75 million euros ($89…

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