Ford Invests $1bn in Self-driving Startup Argo AI

Ford + Argo AIUS auto giant Ford is set to invest $1bn (£801m) in Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based company that builds self-driving technology, over the next five years. The investment is to develop ‘a virtual driver system’ for Ford’s self-driving fleet planned for 2021.

Argo AI was founded by Google’s former director of hardware development, Bryan Salesky, and former Uber engineering lead, Dr. Peter Rander. It will aide Ford’s autonomous vehicle software development team ‘to strengthen the commercialisation of self-driving vehicles’.

“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, who operates as Argo’s CEO. “We are energised by Ford’s commitment and vision for the future of mobility, and we believe this partnership will enable self-driving cars to be commercialised and deployed at scale to extend affordable mobility to all.”

As part of the deal, Ford will become the majority stakeholder in Argo – though, Argo will still operate with ‘substantial independence’ and its employees will have ‘significant’ equity participation in the company.

Argo’s initial focus will be to support the development of Ford’s self-driving vehicles – with plans to potentially license its technology to other companies in 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,” said Ford President and CEO Mark Fields.