Ford launches automated driving subsidiary Latitude AI months after shutting down self-driving startup Argo
Late last year, Argo AI suddenly ceased operations and shut down. Parts of the company were absorbed into its two major backers Ford and Volkswagen. The self-driving startup burst on the scene in 2017 after raising $1 billion from Ford.
Ford said at the time that creating self-driving “robotaxis” will be “harder than putting a man on the moon.” In a statement, the company added: “In coordination with our shareholders, the decision has been made that Argo AI will not continue on its mission as a company. Many of the employees will receive an opportunity to continue work on automated driving technology with either Ford or Volkswagen, while employment for others will, unfortunately, come to an end.”
Fast forward four months later, Ford decided to create a new AI subsidiary to develop advanced driver assist technology with many of the employees coming from the Argo AI.
Today, Ford announced the launch of Latitude AI, a new automated driving unit that the automotive giant said will expand on the company’s existing BlueCruise technology, which already offers hands-free highway driving on certain models. The Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford also added that it hired about 550 employees who previously worked at Argo AI for its new subsidiary.
“The expertise of the Latitude team will further complement and enhance Ford’s in-house global ADAS team in developing future driver assist technologies, ultimately delivering on the many benefits of automation,” said Sammy Omari, Latitude’s CEO and executive director of ADAS technologies at Ford.
Just a week after the shutdown in November, Argo laid off 78 employees in Austin. However, Ford and Volkswagen said the affected Argo employees will be offered positions with the automakers. At its peak, Argo AI had more than 1,400 people across major U.S. cities.
Argo AI was founded in 2016 by Bryan Salesky and Peter Rander. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Argo AI is an autonomous vehicle technology platform that is developing self-driving technology in partnership with leading automakers, including Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group. Before ceasing operation, both Ford and Volkswagen AG invested $2.7 billion in the company
According to the announcement, Latitude AI will be led by Ford’s executive director of ADAS Technologies, Sammy Omari. The automated driving subsidiary will be headquartered in Pittsburgh with additional engineering hubs in Dearborn, Michigan, and Palo Alto, California.