In the recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has seen exponential growth in terms of the kinds and number of devices that employ the up-and-coming technological development—from smartphones to chatbots to home appliances. Now, the cars are shifting gears to join the fun as well.
Michigan-based global automotive and mobility company Ford is investing US$1 billion in Argo AI during the next five years. While this is not uncommon, in fact a lot of Ford’s competitors are heavily investing in autonomous driving as well, the trend of closer involvement between carmakers and tech systems and solutions such as this heralds a fresher take on commuting and driving.
This unknown startup is founded by former Google and Uber self-driving car team leaders and alumni of the Carnegie Mellon National Robotics Engineering Center. The Argo AI team, led by Bryan Salesky and Peter Rander, is credible enough to tackle one of the most challenging projects in tech application of this day.
Autonomous vehicles, however, are not only trying projects but also portents of the future. “The next decade will be defined by the automation of the automobile, and autonomous vehicles will have as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago,” Ford President and CEO Mark Fields said. “As Ford expands to be an auto and a mobility company, we believe that investing in Argo AI will create significant value for our shareholders by strengthening Ford’s leadership in bringing self-driving vehicles to market in the near term and by creating technology that could be licensed to others in the future.”
The partnership between Ford and Argo AI calls for the expertise of roboticists and engineers from both companies. Ford, already building the virtual driver system that uses machine learning to act as the brain of the vehicle, will continue to lead on development of its purpose-built autonomous vehicle hardware platform, as well as on systems integration, manufacturing, exterior and interior design, and regulatory policy management. On the other hand, Argo AI will chip in its expertise and robotics talent to strengthen the system of the autonomous car.
“We are at an inflection point in using artificial intelligence in a wide range of applications, and the successful deployment of self-driving cars will fundamentally change how people and goods move,” said Salesky, CEO of Argo AI.
Complementing the partnership between Ford and Argo AI will be Ford Smart Mobility LLC, which will lead on the commercialization strategy for Ford’s self-driving vehicles. This includes choices for using autonomous vehicles to move goods and people, such as ride sharing, ride hailing or package delivery fleets. This echoes Salesky’s sentiment: ““We are energized by Ford’s commitment and vision for the future of mobility, and we believe this partnership will enable self-driving cars to be commercialized and deployed at scale to extend affordable mobility to all.”