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Ford Investing $1 Billion Into AI Startup Founded By Google, Uber Veterans

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【Summary】Last week, Ford announces plans to invest $1 billion, which will be doled out over a five-year period, to an artifical intelligence startup called Argo AI.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Feb 14, 2017 3:15 PM PT
Ford Investing $1 Billion Into AI Startup Founded By Google, Uber Veterans

The majority of automakers and companies are hard at work on coming out with autonomous cars and self-driving technology. To do so, some automakers have teamed up with others in the hopes of bringing the high costs of research and development (R&D) down. When it comes to autonomous vehicles, Google Waymo, according to a report by the California Department of Motor Vehicles is in the lead by covering nearly 636,000 miles last year and only 124 "disengagements." 

Ford Flexes Its Muscles

Ford, which recently announced plans to release its fleet of autonomous vehicles by 2021, has made another giant stride to reaching its goal. The American automaker announced that it would invest $1 billion over a five-year period into an artificial intelligence startup called Argo AI. The deal, according to Ford, will see Argo AI develop the virtual driver system for its upcoming self-driving vehicles and could lead to the automaker selling the system to other companies. 

Argo AI was founded by Bryan Salesky, an individual that worked on Google self-driving vehicle for years, and Peter Rander, who was at the head of Uber's autonomous technology until September of last year. The company, as The Verge reports, has a secret headquarter in Pittsburgh, PA. 

The deal is a little more complicated than Ford obtaining Argo AI's work and employees. According to The Verge, the deal will see the American automaker own a majority stake in the company. "From an accounting standpoint, [Argo AI] is a subsidiary," stated Ford CEO Mark Fields at an event in San Francisco, CA reports the outlet. 

Smarter Brains For Autonomous Cars

Ford claims the automaker's current team will join Argo AI's forces to create the brain of the automaker's self-driving cars. With the partnership, Ford hopes to come out with its level 4 self-driving cars in the near future. Level 4 autonomous vehicles are capable of handling driving tasks on their own without any intervention from a human. The vehicles, though, are only capable of driving on their own in a specific area, like a college campus. 

"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," stated Fields in a press release. 

Ford isn't the only automaker that has invested a large amount of money into partnering with a company that excels at developing self-driving technology. General Motors, for instance, purchased Cruise Automation, an autonomous vehicle startup, for more than $1 billion last year. Uber also made a similar purchase by acquiring Otto, a self-driving trucking company, for $680 million last year, as well. 

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