Not to be left behind, Samsung unveils $300m self-driving car fund

14 Sep 2017

Samsung’s stand at IFA 2017 in Berlin. Image: Mahony/Shutterstock

Not to be outdone by its rivals in the autotech industry, Samsung has unveiled a large autonomous driving fund for start-ups and technologies.

The future self-driving car will effectively be a data centre on wheels, packed to the gills with technology, and Samsung wants to influence its development with the launch of a new $300m fund.

The South Korean giant said the Samsung Automotive Innovation Fund will focus on connected car and autonomous technologies, including smart sensors, machine vision, artificial intelligence (AI), high-performance computing, connectivity solutions, automotive-grade safety solutions, security and privacy.

However, Samsung said that $75m of that has already been allocated to an Austrian developer called TTTech, which develops safety, deterministic networking, real-time systems, and complex software integration for connected and autonomous driving platforms.

An industry keen to invest

In addition to the new fund, Samsung also said that it will now start to work in partnership with connected car technology firm Harman, which it acquired for the princely sum of $8bn in November of last year, in the form of the Harman Strategic Business Unit (SBU).

“The [Harman SBU] fund reflects the company’s commitment to the values of open innovation and collaboration,” said Young Sohn, president and chief strategy officer of Samsung, and chair of the board of Harman.

“In partnership with [manufacturers] and start-ups, we will make the driver and passenger experience safer, more convenient and more enjoyable.”

Dinesh Paliwal, president and CEO of Harman, added: “There is already a high demand for advanced driver-assist system solutions, and that demand is rapidly growing with the advancements in connected cars and autonomous driving.

“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.”

This now puts Samsung among the other large tech and auto companies in the world that have created their own funds for autonomous and connected vehicles, which combined amount to billions of dollars of planned investment.

Among them are Intel, which last year promised to spend $250m funding the technology, while IBM and BMW teamed up to develop an AI system to be included within the latter’s cars.

Samsung’s stand at IFA 2017 in Berlin. Image: Mahony/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic