Ford Partner Buys Autonomous-Technology Firm

(Detroit Free Press/TNS/Hamodia) -
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Ford-backed Argo AI, a developer of artificial intelligence software and robotics, is acquiring New Jersey-based Princeton Lightwave, Argo announced Friday.

Ford announced earlier this year that it will invest $1 billion in Argo over the next five years. Both Argo AI and Princeton Lightwave have expertise in lidar, a laser-based sensing system that functions as the “brains” of autonomous vehicles.

In a statement Friday, Bryan Salesky, CEO of Argo Al, announced the acquisition.

“With the addition of the Princeton Lightwave team, Argo is uniquely positioned to innovate in both sensor hardware and the interface between sensor and software — enabling us to achieve performance improvements that would not otherwise be possible,” said Salesky. “Princeton Lightwave’s technology will help us unlock new capabilities that will aid our virtual driver system in handling object detection in challenging scenarios, such as poor weather conditions, and safely operating at high speeds in dynamic environments.

“Argo’s expansion serves to expedite our mission to commercialize and deploy self-driving cars at scale.”

Ford is investing heavily to put a high volume, fully autonomous vehicle in ride sharing fleets by 2021.

Argo AI was co-founded last year by Salesky, who previously worked on Google’s autonomous car project, and Peter Rander, a former Uber engineer.

Princeton Lightwave’s technology will help Argo move forward in handling object detection in challenging scenarios, such as fog, heavy rain and snow and safely operating at high speeds.

Ford’s investment in Argo AI comes as General Motors is testing autonomous versions of its Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle with Cruise Automation, a San Francisco startup GM acquired in 2016. GM and Cruise have test fleets on the roads of metro Detroit, San Francisco, and Scottsdale, Arizona, and will begin testing in New York City next year.