California Gives Ford's Argo AI Green Light to Test AVs

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
california gives fords argo ai green light to test avs

Argo AI, the Pittsburgh-based firm Ford pumped $1 billion into and handed responsibility for educating its self-driving vehicles, just received a go-ahead for testing in the State of California. The company gained a testing permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday, making its autonomous trials perfectly legal on public roads.

Ford’s current trajectory has its autonomous vehicles entering the commercial market by 2021. That’s two years after General Motors promised to do the same. However, recent events cast doubt over whether GM will be able to meet its self-imposed deadlines (some of which dictate future investments from its partners) and start mass production of computer-controlled cars by the end of this year. It’s not just GM that’s having trouble, either. A critical look into autonomous development shows many companies are struggling with advancing the technology to a point that would make it commercially viable.

The Blue Oval might be better positioned in the autonomous race than initially presumed.

That still doesn’t make it an industry leader, though. For the most part, the company is trusting Argo with R&D in Pittsburgh while Ford continues work at its home office in Dearborn, MI. It’s also mapping public roads in Washington, D.C and Miami while readying the next phase of testing. Unfortunately, the scope of these programs aren’t quite as broad as the competition’s.

Waymo had well over 600 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans operating on public roads by the middle of last year and started fielding modified Jaguar I-Pace crossovers over the summer. In May, Waymo announced a deal with Fiat Chrysler for an additional 62,000 minivans to help it transition from testing to a commercial venture. Meanwhile, Argo expects to have over 100 in its nationwide test fleet by the end of 2019.

While it’s unclear whether Argo’s Californian testing is directly related to Ford, it would be shocking to learn otherwise. The automaker invested $1 billion in Argo AI in February, 2017 — not long after the company’s founding by Bryan Salesky, a former member of Google’s self-driving car project, and Pete Rander, who did time with Uber. Since the partnership’s introduction, Ford has been Argo AI’s sole project.

[Images: Ford Motor Co.]

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4 of 6 comments
  • EBFlex EBFlex on Jan 30, 2019

    Let the crashes begin

  • Salmonmigration Salmonmigration on Jan 30, 2019

    Just when autonomous car talk was starting to wind down here comes Ford! Always 3 years behind the ball. Good going Hackett.

    • EBFlex EBFlex on Jan 31, 2019

      Ford is light years ahead in the “buying a run down train station that’s going to cost hundreds of millions to fix” department.

  • Marvin Im a current owner of a 2012 Golf R 2 Door with 5 grand on the odometer . Fun car to drive ! It's my summer cruiser. 2006 GLI with 33,000 . The R can be money pit if service by the dealership. For both cars I deal with Foreign car specialist , non union shop but they know their stuff !!! From what I gather the newer R's 22,23' too many electronic controls on the screen, plus the 12 is the last of the of the trouble free ones and fun to drive no on screen electronics Maze !
  • VoGhost I'm clearly in the minority here, but I think this is a smart move. Apple is getting very powerful, and has slowly been encroaching on the driving experience over the last decade. Companies like GM were on the verge of turning into mere hardware vendors to the Apple brand. "Is that a new car; what did you get?" "I don't remember. But it has the latest Apple OS, which is all I care about." Taking back the driving experience before it was too late might just be GM's smartest move in a while.
  • VoGhost Can someone Christian explain to me what this has to do with Jesus and bunnies?
  • Del My father bought GM cars in the 60's, but in 1971 he gave me a used Datsun (as they were called back then), and I'm now in my 70's and am happy to say that GM has been absent from my entire adult life. This article makes me gladder than ever.
  • TheEndlessEnigma That's right GM, just keep adding to that list of reasons why I will never buy your products. This, I think, becomes reason number 69, right after OnStar-Cannot-Be-Disabled-And-It-Comes-Standard-Whether-Or-Not-You-Want-It and Screw-You-American-Car-Buyer-We-Only-Make-Trucks-And-SUVs.