Samsung has received approval to test self-driving cars on California public roads. The Korean firm is the latest entrant on the list of companies that have gotten the green light after agreeing to the terms of the Autonomous Vehicle Tester Program from the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Samsung Self-Driving Cars
Image Credit: YouTube video (screenshot)

California is a growing hub for autonomous vehicle

According to a DMV spokesperson, a permit has been granted to Samsung’s semiconductor division, and it covers three vehicles: a Toyota Prius and two Audi A3s. In all, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has given permission to 39 companies to test autonomous vehicles.

Other companies that are on the list include Apple, Delphi, Bosche, NVIDIA and Waymo. Apart from tech companies, automakers such as General Motors and Volkswagen are also on the list.

California has been very progressive when it comes to autonomous vehicles, but the federal government is about to make a move in this area too. In the coming week, lawmakers in Washington are expected to vote on the SELF DRIVE Act, which will determine the policies of the states in regulating autonomous vehicle designs. Once the law is passed, companies such as Waymo will be able to test 100,000 such cars, but they will need to share more data with the feds, notes Engadget.

According to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (a Republican), “Self-driving vehicles stand to make our transportation system safer and more efficient. Advancing this technology to road-ready requires government policy that encourages continued testing and development.”

What might a Samsung self-driving car look like?

Samsung has confirmed the news but made it clear that it is not looking to manufacture self-driving cars.

“As a global leader in connectivity, memory, and sensor technology, Samsung Electronics looks forward to participating in California’s Autonomous Vehicle Tester Program and joining in the pursuit of a smarter, safer transportation future,” the Korean firm said.

The company does not plan to manufacture its own Samsung self-driving cars; instead, the Korean firm said it is excited to help deliver the next generation of automotive innovation. In 2015, Samsung made a new division exclusively for self-driving vehicle software instead of focusing on the entire vehicle.

Prominent tech companies such as Google and Apple use modified Lexus SUVs for testing their autonomous systems. However, under the terms of a deal, the Samsung self-driving software will be tested on Hyundai’s cars. In fact, the South Korean electronics giant already has approval to start testing its autonomous vehicle software adapted to Hyundai vehicles in its home country.

These cars will come equipped with advanced sensors developed by Samsung and machine learning systems, which, according to the company, will offer a platform to other companies, notes The Guardian. It comes as a surprise that Samsung is using Hyundai cars, given the fact that Samsung has a 20% stake in Renault Samsung Motors, which is part of the Renault-Nissan alliance, the world’s fourth largest auto producer, notes The Verge. Nissan also has approval to test self-driving cars California.

Last year, Samsung acquired U.S. auto parts maker Harman International Industries to ramp up its innovation in the growing market for automotive technology. At that time, the company said that the acquisition would give it a strong foundation in self-driving car technology.

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