Samsung ups bet on self-driving cars

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Samsung Electronics Co. said Thursday it will invest 75 million euro ($89 million) in TTTech, a Vienna, Austria-based company that makes autonomous driving technologies and safety controls for Audi cars and others, stepping up its push into autonomous driving technology.

The South Korean company, known for its Galaxy smartphones, is launching a new unit dedicated to automotive tech.

The future self-driving vehicle will effectively be a data centre on wheels, packed to the gills with technology, and now Samsung wants to influence its development with the launch of a new $300m fund. 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. It marks the fund's inaugural investment in a startup.

The bounty of cash is part of a new business unit called the Samsung Automotive Innovation Fund. "The Autonomous/ADAS SBU and automotive fund reflect the company's commitment to the values of open innovation and collaboration".

"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, said in a statement.

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

To date, Samsung has secured licenses for on-road testing of autonomous driving software and hardware under development in Korea and California.

TTTech has expertise over a wide range of services including "functional safety, deterministic networking, real-time systems, and complex software integration" for autonomous and other automated systems.

Rather than building a auto of its own, Samsung and Harmon plan to develop technologies that can be incorporated into vehicles from automakers. "At Samsung, we see it as our responsibility to invest in the technologies that will revolutionize the way we live, work, and connect with one another".

Samsung's investments to improve the self-driving space include looking into the technology behind sensors, machine vision, artificial intelligence and security.