Samsung joins race to develop self-driving car tech just as Apple prototypes are spotted

Samsung logo

Samsung logo

Samsung has joined the long list of automakers and tech firms racing to develop self-driving cars and the software that controls them.

The Korean conglomerate, along with roughly 20 other firms, was recently granted permission to test self-driving cars on public roads in South Korea.

Samsung has built its own cars in the past, though in an interview with The Gaurdian a Samsung spokesperson said the company was focused on the technology for self-driving cars as opposed to the actual development and production of a self-driving car.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

Apple logo

Apple logo

It’s a similar strategy to many of Samsung’s rivals in the tech space also known to be working on self-driving car technology. The list includes firms like Apple, Google parent company Alphabet, Intel and Nvidia.

The news comes just as a handful of Lexus RX SUVs registered to Apple were spotted driving near the company’s Cupertino, California headquarters with sensors required for self-driving attached to them. Based on information from an industry expert, Bloomberg, which has photos of the SUVs, reports that the sensors appear to be products bought off the shelf from suppliers, rather than Apple’s own designs.

The SUVs were spotted just two weeks after Apple was granted permission to test self-driving cars on public roads in California. Part of the rules is that Apple must make public details of the testing, including occurrences when the self-driving system stops working and a human driver needs to take control, a process known as disengagement. Worried about its disengagements being reported on, falsely or not, Apple has sent a letter to the California DMV requesting that certain disengagement occurrences should not have to be reported.

It’s thought that Apple intended to develop its own self-driving cars under the Project Titan code name, but later changed its focus to the technology only. The thinking is that this way Apple would have the flexibility to either partner with an established automaker or return to developing its own car once the hurdle of developing self-driving technology is passed.

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