As it seeks to strengthen its leadership in the autonomous vehicle market, carmaker Ford has announced that it is to invest $1 billion in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence company founded by two former leaders of the self-driving car teams at Google and Uber.
The investment will be made over five years as the combined teams work to develop a new software platform for Ford’s fully autonomous vehicle, which the carmaker hopes to have available for commercial mobility services in 2021. Argo AI may also seek to license its technology to other companies in future.
Mark Fields, Ford President and CEO, 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.
“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 carmaker said that Argo AI’s team, which is expected to expand to more than 200 people this year, would work with the Ford team currently developing its virtual driver system – the machine-learning software that will act as the ‘brain’ of its autonomous vehicles.
Ford will continue to lead the development of its self-driving vehicle hardware platform, as well as handling systems integration, design and manufacturing.
Argo AI CEO Bryan Salesky said: “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.
“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.”