PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — You have seen Argo AI’s Ford models cruising the streets of Pittsburgh.
You really can’t miss them with their weird contraption on the roof.
Ford already has invested $2 billion into Argo AI. Now Volkswagen in investing $2.6 billion.
The two companies announced a partnership Friday with Argo AI with the goal of putting electric and self-driving vehicles on the road.
“In return, Volkswagen and Ford get the world’s best (self-driving system) platform, with the most compelling technology,” VW CEO Dr. Herbert Diess said.
The big-name backers are critical to Argo AI, which is in a tech race with Uber and others to develop the standard for self-driving technology.
“It’s not about being first as it is getting the design and technology right,” Ford CEO Jim Hackett said.
Both Ford and VW considered all the options and decided the Strip District-based Argo AI, with ties to Carnegie Mellon University, was the best way to go.
“Together, we will make the Argo AI technology the global standard,” Dr. Diess said.
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“Thanks to Ford and Volkswagen our tech could reach every global market and be applied across multiple brands and a variety of vehicle platforms,” Argo AI CEO and Co-Founder Bryan Salesky said.
Argo AI has test vehicles on the streets of Miami, Washington D.C., Detroit, Pittsburgh and California’s Palo Alto to get a wide data base of diverse driving conditions.
Salesky said they are developing a system that adapts to the driving habits and complexities of where they are driving.
“Naturalistic driving is safe because it helps fit in with other traffic. Self-driving becomes an issue if they become outliers, if they are outside of the norm of the driving in that city,” Salesky said.
While Argo AI may be testing in other cities, it has a Pittsburgh native at its helm and is a Pittsburgh company. Local leaders are ecstatic about VW’s investment.
“It is putting Pittsburgh back on the global map,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said.
Argo AI’s Salesky said the company’s employment will expand by 200 jobs, and he’s calling for applications.
Mayor Peduto believes that’s only the beginning.
“I would assume that over the next few years, that number will double or triple,” Peduto said.
The deal should be finalized early next year, and both Ford and VW will incorporate the technology in competing vehicles when its perfected.
The two giants are also teaming up to push forward electric vehicle development. Ford is targeting both the Mustang and the F150 for electric versions.