Samsung Electronics Co.is upping its $8 billion bet on automotive technology, forming a separate business unit within Harman to house autonomous driving products and plowing $300 million into a new fund investing in startups in the space.
The fund's first investment is $75m in TTTech, a networking and safety controls company that is working on the complex software integration for automated driving platforms. The new Harman unit will work with Samsung's Smart Machines team to develop new technologies for connected vehicles.
The announcement comes shortly after Samsung completed its acquisition of American audio and in-car technology firm Harman.
Samsung is making a huge investment in autonomous driving. Harman manufactures auto infotainment systems, along with "connected car-safety" technologies, including rear-view cameras.
Samsung Electronics is starting to focus on a different kind of mobile technology. Instead it intends to expand work it's already doing in the automotive area, including developing self-driving auto technology. "In partnership with OEMs and startups, 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 of HARMAN, in a statement. The company also plans to create a separate unit, the Autonomous/ADAS Strategic Business Unit (SBU), within Harman. But the firm said it will not enter the car-manufacturing business, and will instead work with vehicle makers on their projects.
Samsung has recently gained a license in Korea and California to test-run its software and hardware applications for self-driving vehicles. Samsung will not enter the car-manufacturing business, remaining focused on working with automakers and mobility enablers to develop the next generation of automotive innovation. "At Samsung, we see it as our responsibility to invest in the technologies that will revolutionize the way we live, work, and connect with one another".
The two will focus on engineering, high-performance computing, sensor technologies and artificial intelligence, as well as connectivity and cloud solutions that enable ADAS and automated driving, it added.