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Ford partner buys autonomous tech firm

Greg Gardner, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

DETROIT -- Ford-backed Argo AI, a developer of artificial intelligence software and robotics, is acquiring New Jersey-based Princeton Lightwave.

Ford announced earlier this year that it will invest $1 billion in Argo over the next five years. Both Argo AI and Princeton Lightwave have expertise in lidar, a laser-based sensing system that functions as the "brains" of autonomous vehicles.

"With the addition of the Princeton Lightwave team, Argo is uniquely positioned to innovate in both sensor hardware and the interface between sensor and software -- enabling us to achieve performance improvements that would not otherwise be possible," Bryan Salesky, CEO of Argo AI, said in a statement.

Ford is investing heavily to put a high volume, fully autonomous vehicle in ride sharing fleets by 2021.

Argo AI was co-founded last year by Salesky, who previously worked on Google's autonomous car project, and Peter Rander, a former Uber engineer.

Princeton Lightwave's technology will help Argo move forward in handling object detection in challenging scenarios, such as fog, heavy rain and snow and safely operating at high speeds.

Ford's investment in Argo AI comes as General Motors is testing autonomous versions of its Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle with Cruise Automation, a San Francisco startup GM acquired in 2016. GM and Cruise have test fleets on the roads of metro Detroit, San Francisco, Scottsdale, Arizona, and will begin testing in New York City next year.

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