Over the last few years, Tesla has been slowly rolling out its autopilot capabilities through various vehicle updates via embedded technology. Through these investments, Tesla has provided a roadmap for other auto manufacturers.
Ford is taking the self-driving wheel with the announcement of its acquisition of a majority stake in artificial intelligence company Argo AI. Over the next five years, Ford’s investment, equaling $1 billion, will help fuel Ford’s intentions to release its first self-driving car by 2021. Founded by former Alphabet Inc. executive Bryan Salesky and Peter Rander, formerly of Uber Technologies Inc., Argo AI could be a strategic and valuable move for Ford to secure its place in the autonomous vehicle race.
As Ford works towards its goal of rolling out a self-driving car in five years, it’s claiming that, by the end of the decade, 20 percent of all U.S. auto sales will be made up of autonomous cars. The Wall Street Journal quoted Ford CEO Mark Fields, who said: “We think automation is going to define the automobile in the next decade.”
Leading the charge for self-driving cars are various auto manufacturers and technology companies, including Alphabet, Uber and, of course, Tesla. Ford's strategic move to acquire a majority stock in Argo AI will allow it to harness the startup's technology by integrating it into its cars and trucks. While Ford will seemingly get the initial rights to Argo AI's technology, the current deal is agile enough that Salesky and Rander could work with other auto manufacturers.
Ford and Tesla aren't the only auto manufacturers in the self-driving car game. So far, we've seen a few deals, including General Motors' $1 billion deal to acquire Cruise Automation and Toyota's plan to spend the same amount to develop a Silicon Valley-based autonomous driving and robotics research facility.
With all of these auto manufacturers cutting their teeth in the self-driving arena, the demand for artificial intelligence talent is sure to skyrocket.