Samsung self-driving cars take fight to Apple, Uber and Google’s Waymo

Korean electronics firm granted permission to test autonomous cars on public roads using Hyundai vehicles, following rival Apple’s California testing
Hyundai Ionic self-driving car.

Samsung is stepping up its plans for self-driving cars to rival former Google project Waymo, Uber, and Apple, bringing the key players from the battle for smartphone dominance to the brave new world of autonomous vehicles.

The South Korean electronics manufacturer, which is the world’s largest smartphone maker and a chip giant in its right, has been given permission to test its self-driving cars on public roads by the South Korean ministry of land, infrastructure, and transport.

The decision puts Samsung in direct competition with US technology firms, including Uber, Waymon, and Apple, all of which are already testing self-driving vehicles on public roads. Samsung’s smartphone rival, Apple, was recently granted permission to test its long-rumoured vehicles in California.

Unlike Apple, Google and other US technology firms, which predominantly use modified Lexus SUVs for testing autonomous systems, Samsung is using fellow Korean firm Hyundai’s vehicles. The cars will be augmented with Samsung-developed advanced sensors and machine-learning systems, which Samsung hopes to be able to provide to others building vehicles, rather than build cars itself.

 

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“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.

Hyundai was granted permission for public testing in February 2016.
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Hyundai was granted permission for public testing in February 2016. Photograph: Morgan J Segal/Hyundai
The South Korean chaebol completed it’s $8bn (£6.2bn) acquisition of US automotive and audio supplier Harman International in March, a move it said would help Samsung seize on the transformative opportunities autonomous vehicle technology could bring. Samsung has previously pledged full support for the burgeoning Internet of Things, integrating smart, connected technology into everyday appliances, something autonomous vehicles are expected to rely on for car-to-car and car-to-road communications.

While Waymo has what was known as the self-driving Google car, and Uber has used Volvo cars among others, 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.

Most major automotive manufacturers, including Mercedes, Volvo and South Korea’s Hyundai, which was granted permission for public testing in February 2016, have been developing the autonomous driving technology.

Samsung is just one of 20 firms given the authorization to test the self-driving technology on public roads in South Korea as the government attempts to make the country a favorable environment for technology and automotive development.

The country also reduced the number of mandatory passengers in each self-driving test vehicle from two to one and 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.
Samsung has announced it could refurbish and sell some of the millions of Note 7 smartphones that were recalled for safety reasons, to manage its stockpile in an “environmentally friendly” manner.

The world’s largest smartphone maker said it would sell Note 7s as “refurbished phones or rental phones” after consulting regulators in various markets.

 

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Samsung recalled an estimated four million of the phones over concerns that batteries could overheat and burst into flames.

Authorities in the US and elsewhere banned them from use on planes and even from being placed in checked luggage.

After an investigation, Samsung in January blamed faulty batteries.

The recalled phones could pose an environmental hazard if handled as waste.

A Samsung statement said that the devices would be “recycled and processed in an environmentally friendly manner” with any salvageable components detached for reuse and metals extracted by specialist recycling companies.

“Regarding the Galaxy Note 7 devices as refurbished phones or rental phones, applicability is dependent upon consultations with regulatory authorities and carriers as well as due consideration of local demand,” the statement said. “The markets and release dates will be determined accordingly.”

Greenpeace welcomed the move, saying it came in response to months of campaigning and protests addressing the environmental impact of the recall.

“People around the world signed petitions, emailed Samsung’s CEO, demonstrated in cities around the world, and finally Samsung has listened,” said Jude Lee of Greenpeace East Asia.

“This is a major win for everyone that took action, and a step towards shifting the way we produce and dispose of electronics.”

But Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research said the decision “feels like a huge misstep” for Samsung as it readies a launch of its latest flagship handset this week.

“While the desire to minimize the environmental impact is admirable and Samsung would no doubt benefit financially from refurbishing the phones, it would have been better off simply doing what it originally said it would and abandoning the line entirely and merely recouping parts,” Dawson said in a blogpost.

Greenpeace said it would press Samsung for a detailed timeline on its efforts and step up its campaign to get other manufacturers to boost recycling and improve the handling of hazardous smartphone waste.

The same hassle is present in some apps as nicely, prompting Google to urge builders to growth the most thing ratio they help – till they do, some apps will have the equal unpleasant letterboxing. Such is the fee of progress.

While Google is helping Samsung out on this issue (though the long LG G6 suffers from the same problem), extra commonly, the S8 sees the clash between Samsung and Google growing more potent than ever. Samsung’s new digital assistant, Bixby, is one of the most important selling points of the new phone. At the release of the S8, Samsung couldn’t resist throwing color at Google and Amazon, telling journalists that “some assistants are optimized for e-commerce, and a few are optimized for seeking,” however, that Bixby became specific, being created to help you something you’re doing.