Argo AI, the Pittsburgh-based autonomous vehicle startup in which Ford invested $1 billion in 2017, has expanded its testing to downtown Detroit with a new third-generation self-driving car.
Argo AI is developing the virtual driver system and high-definition maps designed for Ford’s self-driving vehicles. The third-generation self-driving vehicle is still based on a Ford Fusion Hybrid like its previous test cars.
This latest iteration has a number of mechanical, sensing, compute and software upgrades that will take the company a step closer to production specification. Importantly, these vehicles also have redundant braking and steering systems that help maintain vehicle motion control in case one of the units stops functioning.
The new cars are equipped with an upgraded sensor suite, including new sets of radar and cameras with higher resolution and higher dynamic range, as well as a new computing system that has better processing power and improved thermal management systems, according to Argo AI co-founder and president Peter Rander.
This third-generation vehicle is being used in all the cities in which Argo is testing.
Argo AI does much of its testing in Pittsburgh, where it’s based. The company is also testing its autonomous vehicle technology in Austin, Miami, Palo Alto, Washington, D.C. and Dearborn, Mich. This latest expansion brings Argo’s test vehicles to Detroit, specifically Corktown and sections of downtown around Campus Martius Park.
Corktown is the center of Ford’s electric and autonomous vehicles business plan. The automaker will spend the next several years transforming at least 1.2 million square feet of space in Corktown and ultimately a “mobility corridor,” which ties hubs of research, testing and development in the academic hub of Ann Arbor to Ford’s Dearborn headquarters, and finally to Detroit.
Ford plans to spend $4 billion through 2023 under an LLC that’s dedicated to building out an autonomous vehicles business. Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC will house the company’s self-driving systems integration, autonomous-vehicle research and advanced engineering, AV transportation-as-a-service network development, user experience, business strategy and business development teams. The $4 billion spending plan includes the $1 billion investment in Argo AI.