Why Self-Driving Startup Argo AI Was Founded
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We founded Argo AI to tackle one of the most challenging applications in computer science, robotics and artificial intelligence — self-driving vehicles. While technology exists today to augment the human driver and automate the driving task up to a certain level of capability, replacing the human driver remains an extremely complex challenge. Advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer vision are required to solve it. These technologies will eventually lead us to a new generation of the automobile — a vehicle that is connected, intelligent, and able to safely operate itself alone or as part of a shared fleet. The potential of these shared fleets of self-driving vehicles will be one of the most transformative advancements in this century.
Autonomous vehicles have the potential to save thousands of lives, to extend personal mobility to many who might not have it, and to transform the landscape of an urban setting. On the safety front, the always-attentive capability of a self-driving vehicle can remove concerns over driver distraction. Allowing a vehicle to do the actual driving could enable the peace of mind that comes from having a chauffeur, meaning people wouldn’t have to concentrate on driving when they don’t want to do so or have the capability to handle the task.
On the mobility front, autonomous vehicles will provide freedom and independence for the millions of people who might lack the ability to safely or legally drive themselves. On the urban front, networks of self-driving vehicles have the potential to reduce much of the traffic congestion that is choking cities today.
Consider this: Most personally owned vehicles sit idle about 95 percent of the time. To allow for this, as much as 30 percent of the real estate in a city center may be devoted solely to parking. Think about how autonomous vehicle fleets can address these challenges. They can provide convenient, reliable, affordable transportation shared among multiple users to reduce congestion and parking lot usage, enabling communities to replace parking lots with more economic and socially beneficial spaces.
Argo AI will develop and deploy the latest advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer vision to help build safe and efficient self-driving vehicles that enable these transformations and more. The challenges are significant, but we are a team that believes in tackling hard, meaningful problems to improve the world. Our ambitions can only be realized if we are willing to partner with others and keep an open mind about how to solve problems.
We’re excited about Ford’s commitment to invest $1 billion over the next five years in Argo AI to develop a virtual driver system for its fully autonomous vehicle coming in 2021. We’re joining forces with Ford’s autonomous vehicle development team to strengthen the commercialization of self-driving vehicles. Our agility combined with Ford’s scale uniquely unites the benefits of a technology startup with the experience and discipline of an automaker’s industry-leading autonomous vehicle development program.
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We’re working with Ford because of their enduring commitment to mobility dating back more than 100 years. Ford Motor Company has built its business around human-driven vehicles, but its visionaries see the societal benefits that self-driving vehicles enable for the future. We respect Ford’s extensive autonomous vehicle research and development efforts and are thrilled to be partnering with them.
Ford is the majority stakeholder in Argo AI, but we are structured to operate with substantial independence. Our initial focus will be to support Ford’s autonomous vehicle development and production, but in the future, we may license our technology to other companies and sectors looking for self-driving capability.
Our employees will enjoy significant equity participation in the company, enabling them to share in our success. We’re actively recruiting for our Pittsburgh headquarters, and at our engineering centers in Southeastern Michigan and the Bay Area of California so that we can quickly grow our team.
At Argo AI, we will execute with urgency and commitment, ensuring this important technology is responsibly made available to millions.