Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it has launched an artificial-intelligence unit focusing on driverless cars, hiring people who used to work at the shuttered Argo AI startup. The division, named Latitude, will be based in Pittsburgh, with a test track in Greenville, S.C., and engineering hubs in California and Michigan, Ford
The unit’s 550 employees were hired from the Ford-backed Argo AI startup that closed its doors last year. The team’s work will include advancements in Ford BlueCruise, the company’s advanced driver-assistance system, which has accumulated “more than 50 million miles of hands-free driving,” Ford said. The auto maker wound down its investment in Argo AI in October, saying there were too many challenges to running a profitable network of fully self-driving vehicles soon. The company took a $2.7 billion impairment on its third-quarter results. Argo AI also had the backing of Volkswagen AG.
At the time Argo AI shut down, Ford and VW indicated that the company’s technology was taking too long to commercialize. Argo AI said at the time that some of its 2,000 employees would get a chance to continue to work on AV technology with either Ford or VW. Shares of Ford have lost about 32% in the past 12 months, compared with a decline of around 10% for the S&P 500 index.