Ford today announced that it will invest $1 billion over the next five years into startup Argo AI to develop artificial intelligence to control fully-autonomous vehicles. Under the partnership, Argo AI will technically become a subsidiary of the automaker, and there is a chance that the software could later be licensed to other automotive firms.
“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,” says Ford President and CEO Mark Fields. “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.”
Argo AI was co-founded by CEO Bryan Salesky, formerly of Google, and COO Peter Rander, who previously worked with Uber. Both are alumni from Carnegie Mellon’s National Robotics Engineering Center, so the startup has plenty of credibility in the field. Ford’s current “virtual driver” development team will partner with the Argo AI staff to accelerate the development of software capable of driving Ford’s first autonomous car.