Electronics giant gets self-driving car permit in California.

It’s a little odd how so many different – and even unexpected – entities are getting in on the self-driving car game, with a few unlikely players. But what’s even stranger is the sense of non-committal to the concept. Apple has been on-again, off-again about their plans, even going so far as to announce they would focus instead on software development, only to turn around and return to vehicle research and development. Now, tech giant Samsung has secured permits for road-legal self-driving in California, despite dodging earlier rumors.

Audio acquisition now makes sense

Its potential for self-driving R&D was first speculated when Samsung paid $8 billion for Harman, a vehicle audio provider. At the time, Samsung played that acquisition off as a necessary partnership for its connected in-car vehicle service, much like a number of auto makers have incorporated into their vehicles. Now, with the necessary permits to test self-driving cars in both South Korea and the US, Samsung’s focus looks like it has shifted.

Up for grabs

As to who makes the actual vehicles, that’s up in the air for now. Samsung has connections to both Renault and Hyundai, but Renault is currently facing a lot of fallout due to its part in the infamous emissions cheating scandal that affected a number of complicit automakers. Certain cars made by different brands were installed with software that not only detected when the vehicle was being scanned for emissions output, but then also adjusted the efficiency of the engine during the scan in order to reduce the amount of pollutants they put out. Once the test was completed, the engine would return to normal functionality in violation of US emissions requirements.

Safety first

There is one key aspect that sets Samsung’s game apart, and that’s its reasons for entering this research project in the first place. According to CNBC’s report, the goal is not just a convenience-level autonomous vehicle, but rather one that can take over control in severe weather conditions. Weather, low visibility, and road conditions are key contributing factors in fatal accidents.