On Friday, Ford announced that they are investing a whooping $1 billion into Argo AI over the next five years, which essentially means that they just bought the startup. According to Ford's CEO, Mark Fields, they are actually going to keep Argo very independent. Essentially running as a subsidiary under the Ford umbrella. Those who may not have heard of Argo before, it's a startup that is comprised of two employees that know a little something about self-driving cars. There's Bryan Salesky who was part of the Google Self-Driving Car program (now known as "Waymo") and Peter Rander who was in charge of autonomous vehicles at Uber, up until September of last year.
According to Ford, the initial focus for Argo AI under Ford's leadership will be to build the brain of a self-driving car. A vehicle that Ford is hoping to put on the road by 2021. Now Ford has been working on autonomous vehicles for a few years now, and with their headquarters being in Dearborn, MI, they have been able to test these cars in wintery conditions like snow and freezing rain. Something that many of their competitors have been unable to do. Fields did also note that down the road, Argo and Ford may be looking to license out the software to other manufacturers. This is something that will likely become a bigger thing in the next few years. As companies look to partner with traditional car makers to get autonomous vehicles on the road.
Ford, in recent years, has been looking past the automobile, even though that is what they have been known for, for over a century. Their future is in smart cities, autonomous vehicles and other things of the nature. And investing $1 billion into Argo AI is a pretty big part of that. Not only will it help them accelerate their efforts into autonomous vehicles, but it will also help them with other projects, seeing as they just essentially bought an artificial intelligence company. There's loads of things that Argo can do for Ford and help make their vehicles better, outside of eliminating the driver, which seems to be everyone's goal right now.