Diving into the industry’s self-driving race, Ford Motors has invested US$1 billion for the next five years in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence startup focused on developing autonomous vehicle technology. Fun fact? The AI startup was founded by Bryan Salesky, a former employee from Google’s self-driving team, and Peter Rander, who previously headed Uber’s autonomous efforts up until September 2016. With Ford’s proficiency in the automotive sector and Argo AI’s robotics know-how, a team from the two entities would develop a virtual driver system for Ford’s autonomous vehicle that’s set to be delivered in 2021. The investment essentially means that Ford is gaining a majority stake in the startup, though Ford CEO Mark Fields has expressed how Argo AI will operate independently, and is incentivizing employee retention by offering equity in the startup.
And in the future, Argo AI plans to license its tech to other companies too. Quite familiar to those watching the industry too- if you remember, last year, Volvo partnered with automotive safety company Autoliv to develop autonomous software, and license it too. That’s not to ignore Tesla’s approach to updating its software, with Uber looking for cities to test its self-driving feature to the service, and Google’s parent company Alphabet launching new division Waymo to primarily focus on developing its autonomous vehicle tech. And if we look closer to home, UAE is taking steps to being a smart city, further closer to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai. In collaboration with firm Ehang, the Road and Transportation Agency recently revealed their plans for the Chinese EHang 184 passenger drone to launch operations soon. Showcased at the World Government Summit in Dubai, the autonomous aerial vehicle was tested and found capable of carrying a person. With a lot of players involved, we might finally be closer to having flying cars and more, soon.