Argo AI, a promising self-driving car technology developer that raised billions of dollars from Ford and Volkswagen, is closing and being dissolved, Ford announced on Wednesday, blaming the venture for its quarterly loss.
The startup, led by former Google and Waymo engineer Bryan Salesky, informed its 2,000 employees on Wednesday of the development and said some would be offered jobs at the automakers, according to Ford.
Argo could not find new investors, so Ford stopped funding it and instead focused on its driver-assistance technology. Ford reported an $827 million net loss in the third quarter due to a $2.7 billion non-cash, pretax impairment on its Argo investment.
Argo began as a bold endeavor by Ford to catch up to Alphabet’s Waymo and GM-backed Cruise in developing the software and components required to commercialize self-driving cars and trucks. Volkswagen joined the venture in 2019 by investing $2.6 billion in Argo. Given that the startup was one of the better-funded AV companies, its demise is shocking.
“We are incredibly grateful for the dedication of the Argo AI team and so proud of our achievements together,” said Salesky cofounder and president Peter Rande in an email.
“The team consistently delivered above and beyond, and we expect to see success for everyone in whatever comes next, including the opportunities presented by Ford and VW to continue their work on automated driving technology.”
Creating commercially viable autonomous vehicles has often turned out to be more challenging than proponents of the technology had anticipated.
Waymo and Cruise are the two businesses that offer autonomous services that are currently profitable. For example, Waymo runs a robotaxi service around the clock on the outskirts of Phoenix.
However, Cruise has also begun offering an autonomous delivery service in collaboration with Walmart and a limited public robotaxi service in San Francisco, particularly at night when traffic is light.
Additionally, Waymo is getting ready to make its ride-hailing service available in San Francisco, and it recently revealed that it would also go over to Los Angeles.