Dave Anderson

Dave Anderson

Samsung Electronics recently established the Samsung Automotive Innovation Fund, a $300-million fund focused on connected car and autonomous technologies. In addition to the fund, Harman, a Samsung subsidiary, has established an autonomous/ADAS business unit which works with the Samsung Strategy and Innovation Centre Smart Machines team to develop technologies for safer, smarter, connected vehicles.  To learn more, we met with Dave Anderson, director of technology, Smart Machines, Strategy & Innovation Centre, Samsung Electronics.

What are you up to with Samsung and Smart Machines? What are your specific fields?

I joined Samsung about a year and a half ago to help grow the initiative we call 'Smart Machines.' The Smart Machines initiative really was to investigate and then develop a platform around ADAS and autonomous driving. The initiative was also to help in the alignment of the true movement into automotive for Samsung.

So, Smart Machines was created within the Samsung Strategy and Innovation Centre. That's an area of Samsung that is seeking to define next-generation business. That came to us as an opportunity to grow that strategy for Samsung Electronics. What we did very quickly was figure out a good candidate that could become our path, our conduit into the automotive market, and it was identified that Harman would be an excellent way to establish that channel.

Harman has an established business in automotive, especially in the areas of audio, connectivity and the cockpit experience. But one of the areas that really wasn't existent or hadn't been developed yet was in the area of active safety.

The other thing I should mention is that even independent of the work in Smart Machines over the last 18 months, there has also been ongoing work across all of Samsung Research and Samsung's Advanced Institute of Technology site. There are thousands of engineers in the Samsung and Harman team that have now been aligned to work on ADAS and autonomous driving.

The other way that we've really spring boarded into this ADAS and autonomous space is through investment. So creating this team in California, that was about $100 million to put the whole team in place in California, and then after that we also took a general investment approach through our Strategy and Innovation Centre in a managed fund that we call 'Catalyst.' Catalyst was used to basically seed an ecosystem for ADAS and autonomous driving, we put about $140 million into seed and Series A funding for emerging companies in really interesting areas of technology for ADAS and autonomous driving.

What specific areas are you investing in?

Four areas, really. So, in the areas of next-generation compute, so next-generation silicon beyond traditional GPU technologies in the market today, next-generation sensors, so investing in things like the next step of LiDAR, solid state LiDAR, true imaging radar, innovative image sensor solutions, really not limited in terms of what sensor technology.

We're investing on the connectivity side of things as well, so not only in the wireless communication, which is something that's very strong within Samsung, but also from an interconnect perspective as well. We know that this next generation of sensors and these next-generation compute platforms have increased bandwidth requirements on how we actually make things talk to each other. So so we've done a couple of investments into companies. An example of that is Valens where we've invested in them for their HDBaseT technology, and we're using that as a backbone in some of the ADAS systems that we're demonstrating here at CES.

The other thing from a products standpoint is our DRVLINE architecture that encompasses both a hardware and software solution.

Are you starting at Level 3?

No, we're actually starting at Level 1. In the cockpit computers that we're supplying right now we're incorporating functionalities for Level 1 and progressing to L3/4. 

What stage is DRVLINE at?

It is in development right now. We have completed the hardware which is in the hands of our developers who are currently building out the DRVLINE framework. We wanted to not only create hardware but a software environment which allows us to work with a number of different AI and algorithm partners to create the application to sit on top of this for an overall autonomous driving stack.