To Push Its Self-Driving Ambitions, Ford Will Invest $1 Billion in Argo AI

14 Feb

By Mudit Mohilay, The Tech Portal

Ford is planning to pour in investments to the tune of $1 Billion into Argo AI. The investment, which will be made over the course of the next five years, could help push the company’s efforts towards an AI-driven, ride sharing fleet by 2021.

With this investment, the automaker will also become the largest shareholder in Argo AI. The tech startup will be helping the auto manufacturer develop Ford’s virtual driver system. The Detroit based automaker hopes to use the system to power its fully autonomous car.

Speaking on the topic, Ford’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields said:

With Argo AI’s agility and Ford’s scale we’re combining the benefits of a technology start up with the experience and discipline we have at Ford.

After developing a fully-working technology, Ford could well license it to others, or even sell it as a standalone system.

With this investment, Argo AI, a company that has been started by executives from Google and Uber self-driving divisions, will receive a huge boost. Though the company now has Ford as its largest shareholder, it will mostly function independently and work towards the common goal of developing a fully-functioning, safe autonomous driving system.

A benefit associated with investing into Argo, will be the fact that the startup will be able to recruit and retain talent by offering them competitive packages and even equity stakes.

They have the opportunity to run it pretty independently with a board, but because it is a separate company or subsidiary, it has the opportunity to go out and recruit with competitive compensation packages and equity.

Meanwhile, Ford is not alone in its forays into the world of startups to pick up those whose technology could complement its goals. Almost every tech company is eying the niche and most major firms are now involved with the efforts to develop self-driving systems in one way or the other. Uber, Lyft, GM, Google……the list goes on.

Investing in Argo will allow the company to influence the direction of work taking place at the startup. In some ways for Ford, it would be like having a separate division working on the AI project except of course, people tend to work with more zeal when part of something new and up coming.