Ford Invests in Argo AI: An Innovative Partnership on the Road to Autonomy

Today, we’re announcing our plan to invest $1 billion during the next five years in a new artificial intelligence software company, Argo AI.

Last August, we shared our intent to deliver a fully autonomous, SAE level 4-capable vehicle in 2021. We’ve made significant progress and are on track to achieve our goal. At the same time, we know rapidly evolving technologies and fierce competition require us to remain flexible and open to new ways of strengthening our team, which is what today’s announcement is all about.

Argo AI was founded by Bryan Salesky and Peter Rander, both alumni of the Carnegie Mellon National Robotics Engineering Center. Both have held leadership positions on the autonomous development teams at Google and Uber, respectively. Salesky and Rander have extensive experience in robotics and understand the field of artificial intelligence.

This new company will join forces with our Ford autonomous vehicle engineering team to continue development of the virtual driver system — the brains of our self-driving vehicles. The system is designed to sense and interpret the world in real-time, just like a human brain does.

This innovative partnership combines the strength of Ford and our industry-leading autonomous vehicle development program with the benefits of a technology startup. This investment brings together some of the most experienced roboticists and engineers working in autonomy, from inside and outside of Ford. The Argo AI founders are proven leaders in autonomous vehicle software development, and we will be combining their talent with our talented team at Ford as well as the partnership’s ability to recruit top talent, resulting in a world-class team.

We believe investing in Argo AI will create a significant advantage for us — as well as value for our shareholders — both by strengthening Ford’s leadership in bringing self-driving vehicles to market in the near-term and by developing technology that could be licensed to others in the future.

This new partnership complements Ford Smart Mobility LLC, which is leading on the commercialization strategy for Ford’s self-driving vehicles. This strategy includes choices for using autonomous vehicles to move goods and people — such as ride sharing, ride hailing or package delivery fleets.

We believe the next decade will be defined by the automation of the automobile, and that autonomous vehicles will have as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago. Today’s announcement is an important step for Ford on the road to full autonomy.