Ford Motor is investing $1 billion on the world’s self-driving vehicle future.
The automaker revealed Friday that it would assign that amount over 5 years to a brand-new autonomous cars startup called Argo AI, which is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and will have workplaces in Michigan and California.
Ford’s financial expense belongs to a continuing investment strategy anchored to changing the auto seller into a mobility company with a hand in ride-hailing and bike rentals.
Argo AI was co-founded a few months earlier by Google car project veteran Bryan Salesky and Uber engineer Peter Rander, who met while operating at Carnegie Mellon University’s vaunted robotics and engineering school.
“The reason for the investment is not only to drive the delivery of our own autonomous car by 2021, but also to deliver worth to our shareholders by developing a software platform that can be licensed to others,” Ford CEO Mark Fields said, during an interview with USA TODAY. “This move gets us the agility and speed of a startup integrated with Ford’s worldwide scale.”
Salesky, a self-driving car hardware expert who left Google’s relabelled Waymo car program last fall, stated that he chose to start his own company with Rander because of “the incredible advancements in machine learning, artificial intelligence and computer vision, however we simply needed a partner to get these cars into the hands of millions of people.”
Ford’s early stage investment in Argo AI shows a growing desire on the part of automakers and tech firms to integrate forces to take on the still overwhelming task of making autonomous driving a daily reality.