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Ford plans to launch its self-driving cars in Miami later this year, and in Austin starting in 2022. This launch is the amalgamation of a collaboration between Ford, Argo AI, and Lyft. Argo AI and Ford are piloting, mapping, and preparing for autonomous EVs operating at a commercial capacity, according to Ford Autonomous Vehicles CEO Scott Griffith in a release mentioned in Business Wire

Ford And Self-Driving Cars

Ford Self-Driving Test Vehicle | Tanya Moutzalias Ford Team

Ford’s autonomous cars started popping up as test vehicles in Washington DC back in 2018. Lyft becoming a partner in this venture, therefore, means Ford is inching closer to realizing its dream of a self-driving robotaxi service. The service will start with 100 cars. In participating cities, Lyft users can select a self-driving Ford to drive them to their destinations. Argo AI and Ford plan to stretch their efforts to a 1,000 car fleet by the end of 2026, as Ford is also already testing a self-driving F-150.

How Does The Self-Driving Car Technology Work?

Argo AI Lidar | Tanya Moutzalias Ford Team

Thanks to its own Lidar, Argo AI believes it has a leg-up on the competition. Lidar is a technology that uses lasers to scan its environment. This allows Argo AI’s Ford-provided cars to see farther with greater precision, in 360-degrees during all hours of the day. As a result, Argo AI states this makes the cars safe to drive on city streets, in suburban neighborhoods, and at highway speeds. Tesla doesn’t even use Lidar. The cars will operate under level 4 autonomy, which according to the NHTSA, means it doesn’t need a driver. However, it can only drive to the tune of specific parameters. 

“This collaboration is special because we’re executing on a shared vision for improving the safety, access to and affordability of transportation in our cities,” Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO of Argo AI said.

What Is Argo AI?

Argo AI Self-Driving System | Tanya Moutzalias Ford Team

Way back in 2017, Ford announced its $1 billion five-year investment into Argo AI, a startup founded by Bryan Salesky from Google, and Peter Rander from Uber. Based in Pittsburgh, Argo AI specializes in self-driving technology, including robotics and artificial intelligence. Argo AI tests in Palo Alto, Detroit, and Washington DC, in addition to Austin and Miami.

Where Does Lyft Come Into Autonomous Driving?

Ford Self-Driving Test Vehicle | Tanya Moutzalias Ford Team

This collaboration between Ford, Argo AI, and Lyft, according to Lyft CEO Logan Green, marks the first time that all the pieces of autonomous driving came together. Argo AI brings the technology, while Ford provides the cars, and Lyft its transportation network. The famous ride-share company isn’t doing it for free. Lyft gets 2.5-percent of Argo AI’s equity in return for its data.

Self-Driving VW Microbus Scheduled For 2025

Ford Self-Driving Test Vehicle | Tanya Moutzalias Ford Team

Volkswagen hopes to implement Level 4 autonomy in its microbus with the aid of Argo AI’s autonomous technology. VW intends its autonomous microbus for commercial usage, transporting people and goods by 2025.

Confidence in Tesla’s self-driving capabilities is waning, thus the market for self-driving cars is more competitive. This deal to accelerate Ford and Argo AI’s self-driving cars, along with VW and Lyft, is snowballing autonomous driving into the future. The future isn’t far off, and time will tell if the operation is safe enough to implement in today’s driving climate. Nevertheless, this is an important step for autonomous driving.


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