Ford Motor Company heightens its efforts to pave the way for autonomous vehicles by making a five-year, US$ 1-billion-dollar investment in startup artificial intelligence company Argo AI.

This strategic move makes the Detroit automaker the majority stakeholder of Argo AI while also putting them a step ahead in the competition to develop and produce self-driving vehicles by 2021.

Seeking ways to make transportation safer by combining advancements in computer science, robotics and artificial intelligence, Argo AI was founded by former Google and Uber leaders and is composed of experienced roboticists and engineers led by Argo AI founders Bryan Salesky, company CEO, and Peter Rander, company COO who are both alumni of Carnegie Mellon National Robotics Engineering Center.

The team from Argo AI will support the machine-learning software developed of Ford’s autonomous vehicle development team by providing the robotics talent and expertise in order to achieve a fully functioning self-driving vehicle.

Ford will spearhead the development of the autonomous vehicle hardware platform, systems integration, manufacturing, exterior and interior design, and regulatory policy management while Argo AI develops and deploys the latest advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer vision to help build safe and efficient self-driving vehicles.

“The next decade will be defined by the automation of the automobile, and autonomous vehicles will have as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years agoAs Ford expands to be an auto and a mobility company, we believe that investing in Argo AI will create significant value for our shareholders by strengthening Ford’s leadership in bringing self-driving vehicles to market in the near term and by creating technology that could be licensed to others in the future,” said Ford President and CEO Mark Fields.

Ford invests USD 1B in artificial intelligence company

“We are at an inflection point in using artificial intelligence in a wide range of applications, and the successful deployment of self-driving cars will fundamentally change how people and goods move. We are energized by Ford’s commitment and vision for the future of mobility, and we believe this partnership will enable self-driving cars to be commercialized and deployed at scale to extend affordable mobility to all,” said Salesky.

“Working together with Argo AI gives Ford a distinct competitive advantage at the intersection of the automotive and technology industries. This open collaboration is unlike any other partnership – allowing us to benefit from combining the speed of a startup with Ford’s strengths in scaling technology, systems integration and vehicle design,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, Global Product Development, and chief technical officer.

Argo AI’s initial efforts will be to support Ford’s autonomous vehicle program but could, in the future, license the technology to other companies looking for self-driving vehicles expertise.