Ford has announced that it will invest $1 billion in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence startup, to help develop the automaker’s autonomous vehicles, which are scheduled to arrive in 2021. Argo AI’s main responsibility will be the development of a virtual driver system for Ford’s self-driving cars.
“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 Mark Fields, Ford’s president and CEO. “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.”
As part of Ford’s continued development of autonomous vehicles, the automaker’s team responsible for developing a virtual driver system will be combined with Argo AI. The combined development team will then be charged of creating SAE level 4 self-driving cars. Ford, however, will continue to be in charge of developing vehicle platforms, systems integration, exterior and interior designs, manufacturing, and managing regulatory policies related to autonomous cars.
The investment also includes Ford becoming a majority stakeholder in the Argo AI but will remain independent from the automaker. Ford’s autonomous vehicle project will be the Argo AI’s key initial focus but in the future, the automaker says that the startup could also license its self-driving technologies to other companies.