Samsung Creates $300M Autonomous Driving Fund

Samsung launches $300M autonomous driving fund, puts $90M into TTTech

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 announcement comes shortly after Samsung completed its acquisition of American audio and in-car technology firm Harman. Harman manufactures auto infotainment systems, along with "connected car-safety" technologies, including rear-view cameras.

Other than Samsung, TTTech has already generated an amount of $54 million from Audi, General Electric and Infineon. 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.

"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", said Young Sohn, President and Chief Strategy Officer of Samsung Electronics and Chairman of the Board of HARMAN, in a statement.

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"In partnership with OEMs and start-ups, we will make the driver and passenger experience safer, more convenient and more enjoyable". But the firm said it will not enter the car-manufacturing business, and will instead work with vehicle makers on their projects.

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. "This strategic business unit demonstrates Samsung's and HARMAN's commitment to answer that call - to be the definitive partner for seamless and integrated technologies".

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. Previous investments have included automated driving startups AImotive, Renovo; Quanergy, TetraVue, and Oculii for sensors; Autotalks and Valens for connectivity; and Graphcore for high-performance computing, the company noted.

"If we were not acquired by Samsung, in five years' time we would have been struggling", Paliwal said. The company has on-road driverless auto test licenses in both South Korea and California, as it tests out new components and systems.

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