The race for autonomous cars is starting to heat up after Ford announced they will be investing one billion dollars over the next five years into Argo AI, an artificial intelligence company.
Ford have previously made it clear to the public they will be releasing a self-driving car in 2021 and this monumental investment into developing the best AI technology only reinforces their commitment to the cause.
Argo AI, founded by former Google and Uber leaders, will be sharing their robotics and AI expertise with Ford to further develop Ford’s virtual driver system.
Ford President and CEO, Mark Fields, argues this will have wide-reaching effects on the public, comparing it to Ford’s previous accomplishments.
“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,” he said.
Ford are aiming to release a fully-functioning, commercial, autonomous car in the next 4 years and believe the partnership with start-up Argo AI will give them advantages over their competitors.
“Working together with Argo AI gives Ford a distinct competitive advantage at the intersection of the automotive and technology industries,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive Vice President, Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer.
However, Ford are not the only company interested in this industry. Autonomous vehicles started trial periods for the first time in 2016, with companies like Uber demonstrating how fast the self-driving technology is moving.
Apple, another competitor in the autonomous vehicle race, has called for organisations to share their research, stating that the security and safety of the consumers should be their priority. Therefore, companies should be discouraged from withholding information for their own competitive advantage.
Despite the partnership, Argo AI will continue to have substantial independence. Their short-term focus will be Ford’s autonomous vehicle, but they could licence the technology to others in the future.
The Singapore government has also been quick to see the potential of autonomous vehicles, as illustrated by the fact they have begun trialling several public transport vehicles.
It is clear the commercialisation of self-driving cars is on the horizon. Ford’s investment into the autonomous vehicle industry will add further competition to an already highly competitive market.