Samsung, the Korean electronics firm, has been granted permission to conduct tests on autonomous cars using the public roads on Hyundai vehicles.
Bringing the key players from the battle for smartphone dominance to the brave new world of autonomous vehicles, Samsung is stepping up its plans for self-driving cars to rival former Google project Waymo, Uber and Apple.
Permission to test its self-driving cars on public roads by the South Korean ministry of land, infrastructure and transport has been given to the South Korean electronics manufacturer, which is the world’s largest smartphone maker and a chip giant in its own right.
US technology firms, including Uber, Waymo and Apple, all are already testing self-driving vehicles on public roads and this decision puts Samsung in direct competition with these companies. Recently granted permission to test its long-rumoured vehicles in California was Samsung’s smartphone rival, Apple.
Samsung is using fellow Korean firm Hyundai’s vehicles, unlike Apple, Google and other US technology firms, which predominantly use modified Lexus SUVs for testing autonomous systems. Samsung hopes to be able to provide to others building vehicles, rather than build cars itself Samsung-developed advanced sensors and machine-learning systems, which will augment the Hyundai cars for the tests.
“Samsung Electronics plans to develop algorithms, sensors and computer modules that will make a self-driving car that is reliable even in the worst weather conditions,” said a Samsung spokesperson.
In a move it said would help Samsung seize on the transformative opportunities autonomous vehicle technology could bring, the South Korean chaebol completed its $8bn (£6.2bn) acquisition of US automotive and audio supplier Harman International in March.
Full support for something that autonomous vehicles are expected to rely on for car-to-car and car-to-road communications – the burgeoning Internet of Things, integrating smart, connected technology into everyday appliances, has been pledged previously by Samsung.
While it is still unclear how self-driving technology will become available to the public and whether technology firms will turn into car firms, as Elon Musk’s Tesla has, even though Waymo has what was known as the self-driving Google car, and Uber has used Volvo cars among others.
Autonomous driving technology is being developed by most major automotive manufacturers, including Mercedes, Volvo and South Korea’s Hyundai, which was granted permission for public testing in February 2016.
And as the government attempts to make the country a favourable environment for technology and automotive development, Samsung is just one of 20 firms given permission to test self-driving technology on public roads in South Korea.
The authorities in the country has v paved the way for the testing of cars without steering wheels or pedals, which are key components required to allow human test pilots to take control in an emergency and it has also reduced the number of mandatory passengers in each self-driving test vehicle from two to one.
(Adapted from The Guardian)