Ford-Backed Self-Driving Startup Argo AI Is Shutting Down
The VW and Ford backed startup has announced it is ceasing operations.
Argo AI will cease operations, with staff notified of the shutdown via an all-hands meeting on Wednesday.
As reported by TechCrunch, the startup is set to shutdown despite billions of dollars of investment and working partnerships with Ford and VW. Employees were notified that automakers Ford and VW would absorb some staff, according to sources inside the company speaking to the outlet.
Argo was founded by Bryan Salesky and Peter Rander in 2016, who had worked previously in Google's and Uber's self-driving programs beforehand. It hit the big time in 2017, with Ford announcing it would invest a hefty $1 billion over five years into the company. VW later joined the party, hoping to similarly benefit from the firm's developments in the autonomous driving space.
Those were heady days, though, and many thought full autonomous self-driving was just around the corner. The reality has proven anything but. Only a few autonomous vehicles currently roam our streets, and they're continually running into problems.
Sadly for Argo AI, the company was unable to deliver enough to keep going. Argo had been testing its self-driving vehicles on public roads of late, but it wasn't enough. The company failed to secure customers for its technology, nor could it make enough forward strides to justify further investment. It suggests that Ford's five-year investment coming to a close served as a natural stopping point for the startup.
It's an inauspicious end for the company, but it marks an important moment for self-driving cars as a whole. Right now, mainstream automakers are focused on improving their Level 2 driver assist systems, and pushing on to Level 3.
Meanwhile, true autonomous driving has largely become the domain of specialist efforts like GM's Cruise and Google's Waymo. It's an expensive game to play, though, with Cruise alone losing $5 million a day last quarter. Argo may not have had the backing or customers to stay in the running, but it seems likely its staff will continue to chase that dream in new roles in the industry.
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