Ford announced that it plans to invest $1 billion in the next five years in Argo AI, a new artificial intelligence company, in order to build fully autonomous vehicles to be released in 2021.
Ford and Argo’s new collaboration aims to combine Argo’s robotics expertise and the virtual driver system – the machine-learning software that is currently being developed by Ford that acts as the brain of autonomous vehicle.
Ford President and CEO Mark Fields in a statement said, “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’s CEO added, “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 ….”
Argo AI founders include Bryan Salesky and Peter Rander – both alumni of Carnegie Mellon National Robotics Engineering Center. Salesky and Rander are respectively former leaders of Google and Uber’s self-driving car teams. “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,” Salesky said.
According to Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, Global Product Development, and chief technical officer, Ford and Argo’s “open collaboration” means that while Ford will become the majority stakeholder in Argo; the new AI company will continue to “operate with substantial independence.”