Ford Motor Co. announced today that they are investing $1 billion over the next five years in an artificial intelligence startup called Argo AI.
The company, headquartered in Pittsburgh, will help Ford create a virtual drive system for autonomous vehicles, which Ford says are coming to market in 2021.
“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 ago,” Ford CEO Mark Fields said in a statement Friday. “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.”
Bryan Salesky, a former Google employee, and Peter Rander, a former Uber employee, created Argo. Ford says they believe the software developed could potentially be licensed to other companies.
Ford will become a majority stakeholder in Argo, and John Casesa, Ford’s VP of Global Strategy, and Raj Nair, Ford’s Product Chief and CTO, will sit on the board.
Argo currently is headquartered in Pittsburgh, but will be expanding to Michigan and California by the end of this year. Ford says that Argo will employ more than 200 workers at those three sites.
Ford has said it expects its 2017 pretax profit to be less than the $10.2 billion it earned in 2016 because of increased investments in mobility services, including Smart Mobility and Chariot.