Working together with Ford and Volkswagen, Argo AI’s self-driving system (SDS) is claimed to be the first with commercial deployment plans for Europe and the U.S. and the two OEMS say that as a result of being able to tap into both automakers’ global reach, Argo AI’s platform could have the largest geographic deployment potential of any autonomous driving technology to date. Volkswagen and Ford will apparently independently integrate Argo AI’s SDS into purpose-built vehicles to support the people and goods movement initiatives of both companies.
Argo AI’s focus is said to be delivering a SAE Level 4-capable SDS to be applied for ride sharing and goods delivery services in dense urban areas.
Ford and Volkswagen will have an equal stake in Argo AI, and combined, Volkswagen and Ford will own a substantial majority. The remainder will be used as an incentive pool for Argo AI employees.
“While Ford and Volkswagen remain independent and fiercely competitive in the marketplace, teaming up and working with Argo AI on this important technology allows us to deliver unmatched capability, scale and geographic reach,” Hackett told Connected Car. “Unlocking the synergies across a range of areas allows us to showcase the power of our global alliance in this era of smart vehicles for a smart world.”
Company leaders also announced that Ford will become the first additional automaker to use Volkswagen’s dedicated electric vehicle architecture and Modular Electric Toolkit – or MEB – to deliver a high-volume zero-emission vehicle in Europe starting in 2023.
Ford expects to deliver more than 600,000 European vehicles using the MEB architecture over six years, with a second all-new Ford model for European customers under discussion. Volkswagen started developing its MEB architecture in 2016, investing approximately $7 billion in this platform. The car-maker is planning to use this platform to build approximately 15 million cars for the Volkswagen Group alone in the next decade.
Ford stated that using Volkswagen’s MEB architecture is part of its more than $11.5 billion investment in electric vehicles worldwide – and supports Ford’s commitment to offer its European customers a broad range of electric vehicles while meeting its sustainability commitments.
Volkswagen will invest $2.6 billion in Argo AI by committing $1 billion in funding and contributing its $1.6 billion Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID) company, which includes more than 200 employees – most of whom have been developing self-driving technology for the Volkswagen Group.
Both automakers stated that they see significant potential, including profitable growth by tapping new business areas tied to autonomous technology.