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Having Multiple Partnerships Will Help Samsung Become an Autonomous Tech Leader

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【Summary】Samsung won’t be building its own self-driving vehicle, but the electronics company has already invested more than half a billion dollars into autonomous tech.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    May 15, 2018 9:30 AM PT
Having Multiple Partnerships Will Help Samsung Become an Autonomous Tech Leader
author: Vineeth Joel Patel   

Samsung is one of the more iconic names when it comes to smartphones. Last month, Samsung beat out Apple and LG as the company with the greatest share of cell phone activations in the United States. When it came to cell phone activations in the country, Samsung took the largest piece of the pie with 39 percent. Apple came closely behind with 31 percent, while LG was further behind with 14 percent. 


Autonomous vehicles and cell phones are two very different things, Samsung is looking to use some things it learned from making phones to become a frontrunner in the auto industry. Samsung has reportedly invested approximately half a billion dollars in developing autonomous technology and doesn't have any plans to stop. After becoming one of the largest cell phone producers in the world, Samsung has set its sights on making its mark in the self-driving car scene by strengthening its partnerships.  


Samsung Sees An Opportunity To Grow


Earlier this February, Samsung announced the production of eUFS 2.1-compatible storage devices for automobiles. The 256GB devices were designed for vehicles with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), high infotainment usage, and high-tech dashboard systems. The storage components support select universal flash storage 3.0 features for applications in cars. Samsung also expanded its autonomous test site in Central California to further develop driverless technology. 


Unlike other tech companies, Samsung has quietly, but diligently been expanding on technology for self-driving vehicles. The company also has plans to continue pouring more money into new technology, reports Autocar. Dave Anderson, the Strategy and Innovation Center's director of technology for smart machines, told the outlet that the specific center is tasked with "investing in the next generation of technology." Anderson also added, "The hottest thing going on right now in Silicon Valley is self-driving cars, and anything related to them." 


While cell phone and electronics maker Apple originally had plans to make its own autonomous vehicle, Samsung isn't interested in going down that route. Instead, as the outlet claims, Samsung is going to focus on software and hardware components for self-driving cars. These components will be based on an open platform called Drvline. Having an open platform of parts that can help vehicles go from needing a driver to being able to operate on their own will make Samsung a must-have partner for automotive manufacturers. 


Renault Samsung Twizy.jpg



Millions Are Being Poured Into New Technology


As Autocar points out, Samsung and car technology subsidiary Harman have been developing autonomous technology for the past 21 months. All together, the outlet states that the companies have spent roughly $94 million to create a framework for a self-driving platform that could underpin multiple cars. In addition to that, Samsung has set aside an additional $135 million to make what Anderson refers to as "an ecosystem of partners." The ecosystem will work on five key areas, including high-tech software, next-gen computers, sensors, user experience, and communications. 


While anyone would look at Samsung's current amount of investment and claim that its absurd, the electronics company also dedicated $287 million to invest in other companies that have the necessary tech for it to reach its goal of offering an autonomous platform. "We know there isn't one partner that can do it all, and we know we can't do it all, so we're learning from all the experience in the industry, and bringing together the best pieces that we can see in the industry to the Drvline platform," said Anderson. 


In today's day and age where automakers and pouring millions of dollars into making their own autonomous vehicles and self-driving technology, the idea of an open platform will probably excite a lot of manufacturers. An open platform will allow automotive manufacturers to enhance their system in any way they deem necessary continue to upgrade the components on their own schedule. 


The hardware of Samsung's Drvline, as Autocar claims, is currently capable of handling up to Level 2 autonomous capability. Adding one of Samsung's modules can increase the platform's capabilities. That's the beauty of an open platform, as companies can spend money and funds developing items they think are important instead of having to start off from scratch. 


Experience In Other Segments Will Be Key


Samsung, Harman Connectivity.jpg



Samsung has a lot of experience making connected devices, which the company believes will give it a leg up on the competition when it comes to self-driving cars. "Cars are becoming software-enabled mobile devices," said Anderson. "They're mobile phones on four wheels. In the context of autonomous driving, it has to be designed from a fundamental perspective to be functionally safe. That has to start from the ground up. That's very similar to a problem we've already tackled and solved with mobile phones." 


New cars are packed with more and more technology over previous models. While that's good news for consumers, it means the auto industry has had to, as the outlet claims, react to new features faster and reduce the amount of time it takes to develop new tech recently. That same ideology has been a part of the cell phone industry for numerous years. "That's been a trend of the last ten years, with technology companies being pulled in," stated Anderson. 


It's also a trend that Samsung has had to get a hold of in various electronics, like washers, dryers, and televisions. "The idea of Samsung as a technology company is so exciting to car manufacturers that there coming to see what we can do," he said. "We are leaders in all the business areas we touch. We didn't create the first smartphone, but we quickly followed that trend and became a leader, as we have in consumer electronics, fridges, washers, dryers and TVs." 


In regard to the auto industry, Samsung is hoping that it can bring its experience as a leader to disrupt more traditional manufacturers. "What Samsung is doing in the automotive industry is bringing that breadth of capability, both in terms of engineering prowess and sheer manufacturing capability," claimed Anderson. "That's going to be a disruptive moment in the industry." 


Autocar claims that vehicles with Samsung's Drvline platform and Level 4 autonomous capability are already racking up miles in California and South Korea. Anderson claims Samsung's new system, which most likely will be a forward-facing autonomous braking camera, will enter production in 2020. 


Cell phone and electronics manufacturers like Samsung are prime candidates for causing a major upset in the industry, as they have the experience, know-how, and partnerships to develop new self-driving tech. With Samsung's incredible engineers and experience, it will be exciting to see what kind of features the company comes up with. 

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