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Samsung can now operate its self-driving car in South Korea

Don't expect Samsung to build a whole car from the ground up, though.

The logo of Samsung Electronics is seen on a glass door at the company's showroom in Seoul on April 27, 2017. South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics posted its biggest quarterly net profit for more than three years on April 27 after shrugging off the fallout from the exploding Galaxy Note 7 battery debacle. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

After it acquired Harman last year, Samsung said autonomous cars would become one of its top priorities. Now, it appears Samsung is making good on that promise.

Samsung just received approval from the South Korean government to test its self-driving cars on public roads, The Korea Herald reports. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has, to date, issued approximately 20 approvals of this kind, the first of which went to Hyundai.

Samsung is one of what feels like a billion different suppliers developing autonomous-vehicle hardware.

Noam Galai/WireImage/Getty Images

In fact, Hyundai will play a role in Samsung's testing. The tech titan will outfit a Hyundai with its own suite of sensors and modules, along with powerful AI and learning tech that should help the car "learn" how to react in certain situations, including bad weather. Samsung is likely relying on some of Harman's know-how to get the job done.

Outfitting an existing car with self-driving tech is a common move for suppliers, which only seek to make the hardware to enable autonomous driving, so it can then be sold to automakers. Delphi uses an Audi Q5 for its development, while Waymo uses a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

While Hyundai's vehicles will be used for Samsung's development, Hyundai is hard at work on its own solution. The company built an autonomous Ioniq concept, which it's rolled out to several auto shows. It looks surprisingly unaltered, with much of its hardware tucked behind existing panels to prevent it from looking like "a high school science project," as Hyundai put it.