Samsung goes bumper-to-bumper with Apple as it prepares to test self-driving cars in Korea

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Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has joined a long line of companies in the business of developing a fully autonomous vehicle.

On Monday, South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport gave permission to Samsung to start testing its autonomous car technology in the country. Samsung will team up with Korea’s biggest car manufacturer, Hyundai Motor Co.

“Samsung Electronics plans to develop top-of-the-line sensors and computer modules backed by artificial intelligence,” said a report in the Korean Herald, “and the deep-learning technologies to improve cars’ self-driving capabilities even in challenging weather conditions.”

The land ministry said it was in the process of creating a “favorable environment” in which regulations relating to testing autonomous vehicles would not be obstructive. Looking at future growth in this now highly-competitive industry, the Korean government is also amending regulations pertaining to the use of cars with no pedals or steering wheel.

Samsung’s entry pits it against its longtime foes in the smartphone market, Apple Inc. and Google Inc. Both companies are already testing their self-driving technology in the U.S.

Only last week, Apple’s self-driving car was seen on the streets of Silicon Valley, following years of speculation as to how and when Apple was going to develop its own autonomous vehicle technology. Apple has been granted permits by the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test three 2015 Lexus RX 450h hybrid SUVs. Like Korea, California is looking to ease regulations on the testing of vehicles with no pedals or steering wheel.

Even in Korea, Samsung is not alone is gaining a permit to test a self-driving car. The government issued 20 such permits over the last year. It’s not yet clear what Samsung can bring to the table in this now fairly claustrophobic and not always cordial market.

The company hasn’t said anything we wouldn’t already know, telling The Guardian it was developing “algorithms, sensors and computer modules that will make a self-driving car that is reliable.”

Image: Eirien via Flickr