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Samsung Creates $300M Autonomous Driving Fund for AI, HPC Research

The Automotive Innovation Fund will also focus on smart sensors, machine vision, security and related concepts for in-vehicle development.

Samsung is creating a new $300 million Automotive Innovation Fund to further its work in the development of autonomous and connected vehicles as the company seeks to broaden its involvement in the growing marketplace.

The fund will focus on connected car and autonomous technologies, including smart sensors, machine vision, artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, product connectivity, automotive-grade safety technologies, security and privacy as Samsung works to integrate many of its varied products into vehicles.

Samsung's investment follows a similar move from Toyota and Intel, which in August formed an Automotive Edge Computing Consortium with several other companies to attack related technology challenges in the expanding automotive market.

The first $90 million investment from Samsung's new Automotive Innovation Fund is being provided to TTTech, which produces networking and safety controls that can be used to make autonomous and connected vehicles safer for drivers and passengers, Samsung said in a related announcement. TTTech has had a long-time partnership with Audi AG and the Volkswagen Group.

Samsung has also announced the creation of an Autonomous/Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) strategic business unit within its HARMAN division, which the company acquired in March for $8 billion and includes brands such as Harmon Kardon, Infinity and JBL. The new business unit will work with the Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center smart machines team to develop new technologies for safer and smarter connected vehicles.

"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," Young Sohn, president and chief strategy officer of Samsung Electronics and chairman of the board of HARMAN, said in a statement. "The Autonomous/ADAS strategic business unit and automotive fund reflect the company's commitment to the values of open innovation and collaboration. In partnership with OEMs and startups, we will make the driver and passenger experience safer, more convenient, and more enjoyable."

Samsung's research in the field aims to develop and deliver new technologies to make these improvements through improved sensors, data-processing methods and other advances that will make cars safer.

"There is already a high demand for ADAS [products], and that demand is rapidly growing with the advancements in connected cars and autonomous driving," Dinesh Paliwal, president and CEO of HARMAN, said in a statement. "This strategic business unit demonstrates Samsung's and HARMAN's commitment to answer that call."

It will be intriguing to see how Samsung, which is known as a consumer goods manufacturer of everything from kitchen appliances to smartphones to televisions and more, will find its strongest roles in connected and autonomous vehicle development.

The Toyota/Intel consortium announced in August is aiming at a different challenge for such vehicles – the ever-larger streams of generated data which will be created through their use. The Toyota/Intel consortium, which aims to find ways to increase network capacities to solve the problem, also involves Ericsson, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp., Denso Corp., NTT DoCoMo and the Toyota InfoTechnology Center. The group will work to find ways to develop an ecosystem for connected cars and the emerging services they require, including intelligent driving, the creation of maps with real-time data and driving assistance based on cloud computing.

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