How Samsung Plans To Take Over The Autonomous Car Market
Samsung Autonomous Car Market takeover
The recent increase of interest in cars with self-drive capabilities, has provided numerous opportunities for technology firms such as Samsung to seize opportunity to break into the automotive industry.
Samsung Electronics shouldn't be considered a new player on the block, the rebranded Renault Samsung Motors has become increasingly profitable by selling number of reworked Renault and Nissan models in South Korea.
The conglomerate founded its own car firm, Samsung Motors, in 1994. Its first cars, largely badge-engineered Nissans, went on sale in 1998.
However the exploration of this new frontier was distributed by the Asian financial crisis. The bankrupt Samsung Corporation had to sell 80.1% of its motor division to Renault for £350m, to have any chance of survival.
The remaking 19.9% is still owned by Samsung Card, the group’s credit card division.
The Korean firm makes 44,000 smartphones an hour, and sells more than 660 million connected devices a year.
Samsung Electronics has been quietly building up its involvement in autonomous and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) technology through its Silicon Valley- based Strategy and Innovation Centre.
I should emphasis, Samsung has no aspirations to build its own cars, instead, its efforts are focused on a software- and hardware- all based on an open platform called Drvline, designed to make Samsung a ‘go-to partner’ for manufacturers that want to develop autonomous cars.
In recent years, about 1000 engineers across Samsung and Harman, the car technology subsidiary it bought in 2017 for $8 billion, have begun working on autonomous systems.
The firm so far has spent an estimated £70 million on the creation of a framework for an autonomous driving platform, and is investing in companies building innovative autonomous systems.
A further £100m has been devoted to build up what Dave Anderson called “an ecosystem of partners”, working in five areas: next- generation computers, sensors, software, communications and user experience.
The technology business unit under Mr Anderson is tasked with “investing in the next generation of technology”. He added: “The hottest thing going on right now in Silicon Valley is self-driving cars, and anything related to them.”
To further solidify it's position, Samsung has taken additional steps and created a dedicated automotive innovation fund, worth around £212m, to further invest in firms with the technologies required for self-driving cars. The first to benefit from this pool of fund was TTTech, a specialist company with proven track record in software integration.
Samsung has realised early on the monumental task which lies ahead, if it decides to do all this by itself. Anderson explained: “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.”
The idea and the appeal of the open platform is embedded in its customisation capability. Manufacturers can customise or enhance it as they choose, and that it can grow, as autonomous technology develops.
For example, the hardware is built around a baseboard – capable of handling systems up to Level 2 (also known as ‘hands-off’) autonomy.
The system then can interact with the vehicle, with two Samsung processors alongside. Additional modules, from Samsung or partner firms, can be integrated to increase the platform’s capability and processing power.
Anderson strongly believes that the requirements for autonomous cars to be plug and play connected devices plays directly to Samsung’s visionary approach: “Cars are becoming software-enabled mobile devices. 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.”
Anderson further added "The idea of Samsung as a technology company is so exciting to car manufacturers that they’re coming to see what we can do. 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."
“What Samsung is doing in the automotive industry is bringing that breadth of capability, both in terms of engineering prowess and sheer manufacturing capability. That’s going to be a disruptive moment in the industry.”
The first product from the new system is likely to be a forward-facing autonomous braking camera, which Anderson said should go into production in 2020.
The ever increasing demand for in-car technology has meant the car industry has had to react faster and reduce lead times in recent years,
The injection of half a billion pounds into new autonomous vehicles venture, the leading smartphone producer now has her eyes firmly set on becoming a market leader in this new venture.
I am currently sitting on the fence and not sure I am in favour of autonomous cars as yet. There is an argument that with rapid advance of technology, self drive cars are the future.
As usual, love to hear your thoughts and feedback on this article or any other articles I have written.