[THE INVESTOR] Korean tech giant Samsung, considered a latecomer in the self-driving car sector, needs to speed up development and acquire more firms to compete against rivals like Google’s Waymo, according to industry experts on Oct. 19.
“Samsung is relevant (in the autonomous vehicle area). But they are half a step behind compared to where the leaders are,” said Jeremy Carlson, principal analyst and manager of autonomous driving and mobility at IHS Markit, global market tracker, in a press briefing in Seoul. “Samsung has a license to test (autonomous) vehicles on roads in California. But there are 20 other companies who acquired a license before Samsung.”
He was referring to firms ranging from traditional carmakers to Silicon Valley tech firms, including Apple, Nvidia, GM, BMW and Google, that received a permit before Samsung got it in August.
Testing is a crucial part of autonomous technology, which requires great amounts of testing and validations through software simulations and traveling before they become road-ready.
“In autonomous cars, Korean firms need to develop more and acquire some smaller companies,” said Egil Juliussen, director of research and principal analyst at IHS Markit.
The experts, however, believe Samsung is in a good position, especially after the US$8 billion acquisition of automotive component supplier Harman last year, as it has a gained a competitive edge in software for driverless cars.
“Harman is very good in software and it is the leading provider of secure over-the-air update capabilities for the automotive industry,” said Carlson. “So they do have some advantages.”
“Software is really where we expect to see much of the differentiation happening with these vehicles and within these forms of technology,” he said, adding that local firms capable of integrating different parts and systems on a single solution will provide greater value to carmakers.
IHS Markit projected that the production of Level 2 and Level 3 autonomous driving systems -- that include Autopilot, fully automatic parking and remote parking -- would increase significantly from 2020 to 2023, with China and Korea seeing high growth rates. This, in turn, represents significant opportunities for the auto suppliers, it said.
By Ahn Sung-mi (email@example.com)