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Ford bets $1B on self-driving car startup

Here at All Tech Automotive, we love to see how technological advances will be integrated into our everyday vehicles.  Weather used for personal or business, it is looking like self-driving cars are getting closer to becoming a reality. We found this article while looking for interesting news to share with you and we are excited to share it with you!  We hope you enjoy!

 Ford Motor is betting $1 billion on the world's self-driving car future.  

The Detroit automaker announced Friday that it would allocate that sum over five years to a new autonomous car startup called Argo AI, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., and will have offices in Michigan and California.

Ford's financial outlay is part of a continuing investment strategy anchored to transforming the car and truck seller into a mobility company with a hand in ride-hailing, ride-sharing and even bicycle rentals.

Argo AI was cofounded a few months ago by Google car project veteran Bryan Salesky and Uber engineer Peter Rander, who met while working at Carnegie Mellon University's vaunted robotics and engineering school.

"The reason for the investment is not only to drive the delivery of our own autonomous vehicle by 2021, but also to deliver value to our shareholders by creating a software platform that can be licensed to others," Ford CEO Mark Fields told USA TODAY. "This move gets us the agility and speed of a startup combined with Ford's global scale."

Salesky, a self-driving car hardware specialist who left Google's renamed Waymo car program last fall, said that he decided to start his own company with Rander because of "the incredible advancements in machine learning, artificial intelligence and computer vision, but we just needed a partner to get these cars into the hands of millions of people."

Ford's early stage investment in Argo AI reflects a growing desire on the part of automakers and tech companies to combine forces to tackle the still daunting task of making autonomous driving an everyday reality.

Uber + Volvo, Fiat + Waymo/Google

Uber is busy testing self-driving car software in a $300 million partnership with Volvo, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has teamed up with Waymo to create a fleet of 100 self-driving Pacifica hybrid minivans. Waymo CEO John Krafcik, a veteran of Hyundai North America, has also indicated that his company plans to sell its technology to other automakers.

Chinese giant Baidu had hoped to give its self-driving program a boost through a partnership with BMW, before that venture fell through last fall due to differences on project trajectory. And a growing number of small startups, such as Silicon Valley's, also are looking to grab a slice of this pie.

Most experts working in this increasingly crowded field are targeting 2021 for delivering autonomous cars to consumers, likely as part of a commercial ride-sharing fleet.

Hiring plans

Argo AI will focus on what amounts to the self-driving car's computer brain, which relies of computer algorithms to process data coming from an array of sensors — radar, lasers, cameras — that help the car navigate through its environment. Ford's engineers working in this arena will join forces with Argo AI, which is hiring now and hopes to have 200 engineers by the end of 2017.

"That virtual driver system, that brain, needs a platform to power, and that's where our expertise in building cars comes in," said Ford CTO Raj Nair. "Partnering with is a hybrid model of collaboration that captures the best of both worlds."

While technological innovation in this space races ahead, the societal integration of autonomous vehicles continues to hit speed bumps.

Last year, outgoing Department of Transportation chief Anthony Foxx had the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration draft a series of guidelines aimed at developing a set of national rules for the operation of self-driving cars. Newly installed DOT head Elaine Chao has yet to reveal her views on autonomous vehicles or the NHTSA guidelines, while President Trump has aimed his infrastructure plan comments more toward bridges, roads and trains.

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Weather or not you choose to purchase a self driving car in the future, it will surely still need regular maintenance and we hope that when you are ready for that maintenance you come to us!  Located in Ballston Spa, NY we are easy to find and always ready to do our part in helping you maintain your vehicle and keeping it on the road!  If you find yourself in need of vehicle repairs or new tires call us today at (518) 309-7109.