The owners of Argo AI, the self-driving startup sponsored by Ford, are giving back to their alma mater to the tune of a $15 million funding in Carnegie Mellon University to fund the creation of a brand new research facility.
The Carnegie Mellon University Argo AI Center for Autonomous Vehicle Analysis will use these funds to “pursue superior research initiatives to help overcome obstacles to enabling self-driving autos to operate in all kinds of real-world situations, akin to winter weather or development zones,” the corporate and the university announced on Monday. Argo was based in 2016 by a group of CMU alumni.
Argo — which, alongside Ford, is testing its autos in Miami, Washington, DC, Palo Alto, and, most recently, Detroit — will strengthen research into advanced perception and next-gen decision-making algorithms for autonomous automobiles. In other phrases: the software program and hardware that power a self-driving automobile’s ability to “see” and “think.”
However, this isn’t a navel-gazing challenge by Argo, neither is it a generous present by a handful CMU alums who made it big. (In 2017, Ford said it would spend $1 billion on Argo over five years.) Instead, this research mission is aimed at enabling the “large scale, global deployment” of self-driving vehicles. That is money to get self-driving cars on the roads sooner and at scale.
Autonomous automobiles are being tested in small batch deployments in cities around the world; however, they’re nonetheless a long way from “global deployment.” To get there, the cars should be declared safe to operate in all types of street and weather conditions. Individuals need to trust the expertise — which they at present don’t — and so they must be affordable and more powerful than taxis, ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, and personally owned automobiles.