Samsung Creates $300M Autonomous Driving Fund

Kelley Robertson
September 15, 2017

Samsung has announced its new Samsung Automotive Innovation Fund - a $300 million investment venture that will enable the Korean tech giant to develop connected and autonomous auto systems.

The Thursday announcement to invest in a partner company of Audi AG comes as the South Korean company completed its acquisition of Harman. Samsung has previously invested in a range of startups involved in autonomous driving and sensors through other investment funds.

"Together we will build products to support new NCAP requirements (safety regulations), solutions for in-vehicle infotainment systems, and new scalable architectures to support fully autonomous vehicles across various industries", stated Stefan Poledna, a member of the board at TTTech.

Samsung has already clearly signalled its interest in this area, through its acquisition earlier this year of infotainment and connected auto technology company Harman for $8bn.

While Samsung might not seem the most obvious company to have a sizable automotive-related fund, there are more than a few connections.

"During this period of extraordinary transformation in the automotive industry, we are excited to play a leadership role in supporting and shaping the future of smarter, more connected vehicles", Samsung Electronics President and Chief Strategy Officer Young Sohn said in a statement.

"In partnership with OEMs and start-ups, we will make the driver and passenger experience safer, more convenient and more enjoyable". The demand is rapidly growing with the advancements in connected cars and autonomous driving.

The team was set up under Harman's Connected Car division but will work in collaboration with the Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center's Smart Machines team at Silicon Valley, composed of automotive engineers.

At the heart of the new business unit is Harman, the American connected vehicle company Samsung acquired in March for $8 billion.

"This strategic business unit demonstrates our commitment to answer that call and as a collective force and will combine our resources and networks".

Samsung has recently gained a license in Korea and California to test-run its software and hardware applications for self-driving vehicles.

Earlier investments by Samsung in the automotive sector include AImotive and Renovo for automated driving; Quanergy, TetraVue, and Oculii for sensors; Autotalks and Valens for connectivity; and Graphcore for high-performance computing.

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