Sat, Jul 23, 2016 - Page 11 News List

Volvo announces plan to sell autonomous vehicle

INTEGRATION:Electric car maker BYD said that a unit of Samsung Electronics bought a stake in the firm, which Samsung said would bolster its semiconductor business


Volvo Group plans to sell a vehicle able to pilot itself down highways by 2021, joining BMW AG in a promise of self-driving technology within five years.

Volvo is to start testing vehicles with advanced self-driving features next year in China, London and Gothenburg, Sweden, eventually putting about 100 test cars on the road in each country with ordinary customers as drivers. The project is a stepping stone toward systems able to take over without human intervention.

Unlike BMW, which announced its 2021 target together with Intel Corp and Mobileye NV, Volvo is still looking for collaborators. The Swedish carmaker needs expertise in software and cloud services and is looking into “various partnerships right now,” CEO Hakan Samuelsson said.

“It’s our ambition to have a car that can drive fully autonomously on the highway by 2021,” Samuelsson said in an interview. “This technology is something, as a carmaker, you cannot develop by yourself.”

Putting hands-free driving on highways within five years would also require laws and regulations to keep up with technological advances, Samuelsson said.

Volvo, which markets its cars based on a reputation for safety, has pushed driver-assistance systems as a way to reduce crashes.

Technology that allows people to remove their hands from the wheel for a short time has come under increased scrutiny after the disclosure last month of the first fatal crash involving Tesla Motors Inc’s Autopilot.

Separately, BYD Co (比亞迪), the electric car maker backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc, yesterday said a unit of Samsung Electronics Co bought a 3 billion yuan (US$449.4 million) stake in the Chinese auto company.

Shanghai Samsung Semiconductor bought 52.3 million BYD shares at 57.4 yuan apiece in a private placement that raised 14.5 billion yuan in total from six investors, according to a statement to the Shenzhen stock exchange.

Electronics makers like Samsung are vying for a slice of automotive sales as carmakers use more electronic sensors and displays in their push for more automated vehicles. For Samsung, the foray into the auto industry is also a way to help make up for declining growth in hardware businesses, such as TVs and smartphones.

The world’s largest maker of smartphones and memory chips last week said that investing in BYD would bolster Samsung’s semiconductor business for cars.

Samsung formed an alliance with Volkswagen AG’s Audi unit to provide memory chips for the company’s dashboard, infotainment and advanced driver assistance applications, the South Korea-based company said in November last year.

BYD is to use the proceeds from the placement to fund an expansion in battery production and research and development into new-energy vehicles, the Chinese firm said in the statement.

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