Ford has announced that it will invest $1 billion over the next five years into Argo AI, an artificial intelligence company founded by former leaders from Google and Uber’s respective self-driving teams.
The American automaker says that its team currently developing virtual driver systems will be combined with the roboticists and engineers from Argo AI to develop Ford’s level 4 self-driving vehicles, the first of which will launch in 2021.
As part of the deal, Ford will become the majority stakeholder in Argo AI with a new board of directors to be established with Ford’s Raj Nair, Ford’s group vice president of Global Strategy John Casesa, Argo AI founders Bryan Salesky and Peter Rander as well as an independent director.
Speaking of the deal, Ford president and chief executive Mark Fields said “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.
“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,” he said.
Argo AI says that by the end of this year, it expects to have over 200 members on its team.