Chinese search engine Baidu also exploring move into self-driving vehicles
The connected car market looks set to gain another heavyweight participant after Samsung confirmed it is forming a team that will focus on automotive-related businesses amid reports it wants to build a smart car.
The move is the latest diversification attempt by the company following a tricky run of recent financial results.
Samsung said that the as-yet-unnamed automotive team will be separate of existing divisions at the company, and will be tasked with growing the sales of car components, particularly in-car entertainment, satellite navigation and autonomous driving technologies.
The team will also work with other Samsung technology arms.
Also joining the smart car race is Chinese search engine giant Baidu, which has revealed that is developing self-driving vehicles that will serve as public shuttles.
The vehicles, which reportedly achieved speeds of 100kph in a test, are modified BMW 3 Series vehicles being tested on expressways to the north of Beijing; they use laser radars, sensors, and cameras in combination with Baidu’s mapping and deep-learning software, senior vice president Wang Jing told The Wall Street Journal.
“We will cooperate with some governments to provide shared vehicles like a shuttle service; it could be a car or van, but for public use,” Wang said, adding that the company has no stated plan to bring these cars to private consumers, but expects the first public vehicles to be in use within three years.
The company already has previous in the industry, having partnered with German auto manufacturer BMW earlier this year.
The relationship has been so productive that it could even release a vehicle by the end of the year, as current iterations have mainly been used to test road-readiness of some of Baidu’s newest technology.
This includes its own data-mapping service, an important part of producing a car that is able to analyse and recognise the world around itself, and artificial intelligence research, including machine learning and the technologies needed for computer vision for cars and other robotics.
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