Samsung ties robot-car efforts with Harman after US$8bil deal
NEW YORK: Samsung Electronics Co is upping its US$8bil bet on automotive technology, forming a separate business unit within Harman to house autonomous driving products and plowing US$300mil into a new fund investing in startups in the space.
The autonomous driving unit will compete on everything from driving algorithms to systems integration, Dinesh Paliwal, Harman’s chief executive officer, said in a phone interview.
That will include an advanced-driver assistance platform with open software that allows outside engineers to build products off of it – a shot at Mobileye, which was acquired by Intel Corp this year in a move that mirrored Samsung’s automotive leap.
“Our industry is literally screaming, saying, ‘We love Mobileye but we need an open platform’,” Paliwal said. “Competition is the best thing ever. The auto industry wants us to do it and we think we have the capacity and the fuel power.”
The South Korean smartphone maker, which snapped up US-based Harman International Industries Inc last year for US$8bil to elbow its way into the hotly contested market for automotive tech, is betting it can marry its consumer electronics expertise with Harman’s presence in dashboards all over the world.
If it works, it will be able to offer carmakers a lightning-quick connected system for info- tainment, mapping, concierge services and autonomous driving – without the competitive anxieties other tech giants like Apple Inc or Alphabet Inc’s Google tend to arouse.
John Absmeier, vice-president of smart machines for the Samsung Strategy & Innovation Center and former director of Delphi Automotive Plc’s autonomous vehicle project in Silicon Valley, will lead the new unit, which was announced yesterday at the Frankfurt motor show.