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Ford Takes Another Big Step Toward Vehicle Autonomy

By: Ryan Gallagher November 6, 2017
Ford subsidiary Argo AI—a self-driving technology company—recently completed a partnership with Princeton Lightwave, a firm specializing in LiDAR technology.

With each auto acquisition and tech team-up, the possibility of autonomous vehicles flooding American roadways becomes less ambiguous and more likely the reality of our near future.

Ford Motor Company’s newest partner, Argo Artificial Intelligence (Argo AI), has purchased light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology company Princeton Lightwave. These three companies will work together to combine manufacturing knowledge, artificial intelligence technology, and LiDAR mapping to create a driverless car. 

Argo AI closed the deal with Princeton Lightwave last week with a goal to accelerate the rate at which Ford can produce self-driving vehicles at scale.

“We can’t talk about a future of self-driving cars without mentioning LiDAR technology – and we won’t be able to build that future without it,” said Bryan Salesky, Argo AI CEO. “These sensors are crucial to creating a three-dimensional view of the world that helps autonomous vehicles find where they are on the road and detect other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.”  

LiDAR technology is integral for the evolution of driverless cars—its sensors detect roadways and the surrounding environment, allowing the vehicle to “see,” while AI technology lets the vehicle “learn” as it drives.

Not surprisingly, LiDAR technology companies are being snatched up left and right, with General Motors recently purchasing Strobe Incorporated to further its own autonomous efforts.

By the end of this year, the Ford/Argo AI/Princeton Lightwave partnership will have 30 autonomous vehicles testing on the road in the Michigan cities of Dearborn and Ann Arbor, plus Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Company officials plan for this testing phase to expand Argo AI’s virtual-driver system so Ford can bring autonomous vehicles to market by 2021.

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