Samsung to create US$300 mln fund for connected auto, autonomous technologies

Samsung to create US$300 mln fund for connected auto, autonomous technologies”

Samsung will also work with Harman to develop connected-car technology.

The South Korean smartphone maker, which snapped up US-based Harman International Industries Inc. a year ago for $8 billion to elbow its way into the hotly contested market for automotive tech, is betting it can marry its consumer electronics expertise with Harman's presence in dashboards all over the world.

"It's time to communicate our intent to enter the autonomous driving market", Young Sohn, the company's president and chief strategy officer, told Reuters. These assets, and the inside track with vehicle makers provided by its Harman subsidiary, give it confidence to enter an increasingly crowded auto market with other top tech names, Sohn said.

Samsung has previously invested in battery technology for electric vehicles, including Seeo which is a California-based company that develops rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, while it has also invested in StoreDot, a company that's building instant-charging batteries for electric cars.

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.

In addition to the fund, Harman International Industries, acquired by Samsung earlier this year, has established a new autonomous and ADAS business unit, Samsung said. Alphabet and Tesla have been testing autonomous driving technologies and Samsung rival Intel acquired Mobileye last month in its own effort to enter the market.

Today's news comes just two weeks after Samsung secured a self-driving auto permit in California, pitting it against rivals from the smartphone realm such as Google and Apple, which are also working on autonomous driving technology in the state.

This is not Samsung's first investment in automotive startups. Samsung has indicated that a 2020 time horizon is reasonable for its strategy to come together, he said. "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".

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.

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