As Argo AI Shuts Down, Will Its Driverless Technology Leave Austin’s Streets?

As Argo AI Shuts Down, Will Its Driverless Technology Leave Austin's Streets?

Ford and Argo AI have been testing autonomous vehicle technology in Austin since 2019. © Courtesy of Ford Ford and Argo AI have been testing autonomous vehicle technology in Austin since 2019.

Argo AI, a technology company testing its self-driving car platform in Austin, is shutting down.

The Pittsburgh-based company has been operating in central Texas in partnership with the Ford Motor Company since 2019. Ford is launching prototypes in Austin to make the city a test bed for autonomous vehicle technology.

“In consultation with our shareholders, it has been decided that Argo AI will not continue with its mission as a company. Many employees will have the opportunity to continue working on automated driving technology with Ford or Volkswagen, while others will sadly end their employment. This is stated in the Argo AI statement.

Argo is used by two of the biggest proponents of artificial intelligence, Ford and Volkswagen. Argo AI has more than 2,000 employees in the US and Europe.

MORE: Did you know there are now self-driving cars on the streets of Austin?

Ford and Volkswagen have cold feet about their investments in Argo AI. In a recent report to shareholders, Ford CEO Jim Farley suggested that the company could acquire autonomous vehicle technology instead of developing it on its own.

Volkswagen also said it would no longer invest in Argo AI. Instead, it plans to use its Cariad software unit to develop automated autonomous driving in collaboration with Bosch and Horizon Robotics.

Until last year, Argo AI had a team of about 40 employees in Austin for its commercial unmanned operations and testing group. East Austin had a separate transportation terminal that served as a naval base, and the company said it planned to build a command center near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The company did not comment on how many employees it currently has in central Texas, how many would be interested, or what its Austin offices might be.

Last year, Ford had a fleet of 30 autonomous Fusion cars using Argo AI technology to drive downtown, including East Austin, the South Congress area and near the University of Texas campus. The vehicles used high-resolution 3D maps of the Austin road environment generated by Argo AI to navigate. It contains detailed information such as lane geometry, sidewalk and bike lane locations, speed limits, and landmarks.

MORE: You can now take self-driving Lyfts to Austin Here's what you need to know

Argo AI also works with Lyft and Walmart in the Austin area. Argo AI said last year that self-driving cars would deliver Walmart orders to a designated area, primarily near the Walmart store on East Ben White Boulevard.

Argo AI did not comment on how the closure would affect the association, and Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

However, Lyft has confirmed that it will no longer offer self-driving options in Austin. The company only offers this event from September. Lyft has previously said it plans to scale to at least 1,000 self-driving cars on its network over the next five years in more markets.

Lyft said it will continue to work on self-driving car options through other partners.

“Argo KI is a great partner and we have learned a lot from each other. This novelty does not affect the autonomous operation of the lift. We will continue to work with our other partners to advance the security and commercialization of AV technologies," the company said in a written statement.

Driverless cars can still be seen on the streets of Austin. Cruise, a San Francisco-based autonomous car company, recently said it plans to offer its services in Austin and Phoenix.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: If Argo AI goes dark, will its unmanned technology end up on the streets of Austin?

Volkswagen and Ford Joint Press Conference – MEB EV Platform / Argo AI Autonomous Tech

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