Argo AI is coming late to the party, but has begun testing a fleet of driverless cars in hopes of developing robo-taxi services to eventually compete against those that Waymo, Uber, Cruise Automation, and others plan to offer.
A spokesperson from Ford confirmed that this photo the Pittsburgh Business Times published this week of a Ford Fusion hybrid sedan spotted in Pittsburgh's South Side was indeed an Argo AI driverless vehicle:
The vehicle marks one of the first cars with a self-drive system Argo AI designed, after Ford agreed to invest $1 billion in the company earlier this year. The car also had the telltale sign of a driverless test car, consisting of a rotating-mirror LiDAR on the roof
Argo AI has also chosen to set up its driverless testing hub in an abandoned public market. There, local merchants told Driverless they have seen a lot of movement at the building, including Ford Fusion cars coming and going, but they did not report seeing any hands-off driving yet.
The startup has mainly been testing the cars' sensors and developing their machine-learning capabilities in the metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh as well as Dearborn, Mich., where Argo AI has also begun to test its driverless vehicles, the Ford spokesperson said.
Ford agreed to invest in Argo AI shortly after Bryan Salesky from Waymo and former Uber engineer Peter Rander formed the company earlier this year. Based in Pittsburgh, Argo AI's co-founders Salesky and Rander hail from local Carnegie Mellon's robotics engineering department.
Ford has been developing autonomous cars for over 10 years, but has said publicly Argo AI will play a key role in its plans to launch Level 4-capable vehicles commercially under a mobility services business model in 2021.
However, despite Uber's current woes, Argo AI still has a ways to go before it catches up with Uber, which began integrating autonomous cars in a working commercial ride-hailing service in greater Pittsburgh last year.