Samsung is investing $300m in autonomous driving, TTTech first to benefit

Dora Pope
September 15, 2017

The new unit will report to Harman's Connected Car division and will work with the Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center (SSIC) Smart Machines team on developing innovative tech to make vehicles smart, safe and connected.

The Samsung Automotive Innovation Fund has been setup alongside a Harman - which Samsung acquired in the past year - Autonomous/ADAS strategic business unit (SBU).

The Thursday announcement to invest in a partner company of Audi AG comes as the South Korean company completed its acquisition of Harman. The first order of business for the fund will be in TTTech, which is a safety-controls developer that is involved in developing autonomous systems.

In 2015, Samsung's venture investment arm led a $6.5 million funding round for a connected auto device developed by Dallas-based Vinli Inc. The funds will not directly be used in the development of these products, instead the company will fund into different startups which, in turn, will come up with products.

On the same day, Samsung established a new strategic business unit alongside Harman International Industries that will exclusively focus on self-driving technology and advanced driver-assistance systems.

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

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"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.

To date, Samsung has secured licenses for on-road testing of autonomous driving software and hardware under development in Korea and California. He also bears experience of working in automotive industry, and in fact worked as a former Director at a US-based self-driving auto company, Delphi Automotive.

"We are very proud to have Samsung as an investor and partner in TTTech to create solutions for the next generation of highly integrated and data-intensive safety systems" said Georg Kopetz, member of the board at TTTech.

TTTech, a leader in "functional safety, deterministic networking, real-time systems, and complex software integration" for autonomous and other automated systems, had already been working with Audi, specifically on the Audi 8. for ADAS and automated driving platforms.

In announcing the new unit, Samsung was careful to note that it won't enter the car-manufacturing business, positioning itself as non-threatening ally to automakers.

Samsung has previously made investments in other automotive startups: including 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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