How Samsung Wants to Help Shape Autonomous Driving


Samsung autonomous driving

Just as its Galaxy smartphones serve as a platform for a wide universe of mobile tasks, Samsung is building out a whole new set of capabilities in another mobility platform: autos.

In its latest move, the Korean electronics giant has partnered with Renovo, a Silicon Valley startup whose software pulls together all the software needed for a commercial fleet of shared autonomous vehicles.

“The two have been working together since the beginning of this year on enabling the Smart Machines Group under the Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center to use Renovo’s Aware operating system in its first fleet of test vehicles in California,” according to the Korea Herald.

“Renovo is working on the cutting edge of mobility—building a robust and scalable operating system for the next generation of automated vehicles which we are using in our test vehicles. Their vision aligns with our mission at Samsung, creating open technologies that foster collaboration, and lead to safer, smarter vehicles,” stated John Absmeier, SVP of HARMAN Autonomous/ADAS Strategic Business Unit and VP of Smart Machines for the Samsung Strategy & Innovation Center, in a press release.

“Automation is transforming the mobility experience, and it requires that the automotive industry come together to create a truly safe, open, and interoperable ecosystem,” he added.

Samsung is pivoting into the automotive arena as its competition continues with Apple, which is also exploring autonomous driving technology, and also Intel, which owns Mobileye, a global leader in self-drive software that supplies software to Nissan, BMW, GM and Hyundai.

With partners such as Renovo Auto, Samsung is exploring a business that is every bit as competitive as its main businesses of mobile and electronics tech. Silicon Valley giants such as Google and Uber are already competing with traditional automakers to control the future of the auto industry, which is embodied in autonomous driving.

Renovo’s approach is to develop a software intermediary that other companies can use to bring together all the pieces of an autonomous vehicle and transportation system, similar to how Android allows app developers to launch services in the smartphone market, according to Fortune.

“The capability enables a commercial fleet of autonomous vehicles to handle massive amounts of data, maintain cybersecurity, and manage communications for a multitude of services that will be delivered to the rider,” Fortune wrote.

Working with Renovo is the latest move demonstrating that Samsung is serious about the self-driving car arena. In 2012, for example, its Samsung Techwin America unit revealed an autonomous driving concept.

Samsung has said, “We have no plans to get into car manufacturing business.” Instead, it’s researching and developing “electronics parts related to autonomous driving technologies.”

To that end, in March of this year it completed the acquisition Harman International Industries for about $8 billion, a deal that gave Samsung an immediate foothold in automotive electronics.

Two months later, in May, Samsung received a license from the South Korean government to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in the country.

Then in September, Samsung announced a new strategic business unit and a $300 million fund to invest in automotive startups and autonomous driving technology.

“We have a vision that the car of tomorrow will be much different than today,” Young Sohn, Samsung Electronics’ chief strategy officer and president, told Forbes. “We are envisioning what happens in the future as similar to the smartphone experience [to] bring more relevant information to one’s driving experience.”

One area that Samsung has been researching is driver safety, as demonstrated in this 2015 video in Argentina: