Ford Creates New Self-Driving Division, Latitude AIFord Creates New Self-Driving Division, Latitude AI
The subsidiary will focus on developing a hands-free, eyes-off driver assist system for next-generation vehicles
March 7, 2023
Ford has confirmed the launch of a new division dedicated to automated driving, Latitude AI.
The move comes just a matter of months after the company pulled the plug on its investment in doomed autonomous tech start-up, Argo AI, which cost Ford billions of dollars.
Latitude will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford employing 550 people, with a focus on developing a hands-free, eyes-off driver assist system for next-generation vehicles.
It will be headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is where Argo AI was based, and source many of its staff from the previous operation, utilizing their wealth of expertise in machine learning, robotics, software, sensors, systems engineering and testing.
Latitude will also have engineering hubs in Dearborn, Michigan and Palo Alto, California, as well as operate a highway-speed test track facility in Greenville, South Carolina.
At the time Argo AI’s closure was announced, Ford explained that it wanted to shift its capital spending from Level 4 systems, due to concerns about how long it would be before fully autonomous vehicles delivered meaningful profitability. Level 4, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, allows vehicles to take full control of the driving in specific scenarios and locations.
Instead, Ford sees more immediate potential in internally developed Level 3 and Level 2 tech, and the formation of Latitude is the manifestation of that strategy. As such, it will work on evolving Ford’s BlueCruise tech, which is already available on select models, including the Mustang Mach-E, and allows hands-free driving on prequalified sections of divided highways.
“The deep experience and talent in our Latitude team will help us accelerate the development of all-new automated driving technology – with the goal of not only making travel safer, less stressful and more enjoyable but ultimately over time giving our customers some of their day back,” said Doug Field, Ford’s chief advanced product development and technology officer.
By appointing so many of the former Argo AI employees, Ford has acquired a team that has accumulated a wealth of knowledge in automated driving, including software development tools and infrastructure, and the pivot to work on ADAS is an obvious step for them.
Sammy Omari, executive director, ADAS Technologies at Ford, will serve as Latitude’s CEO, and he promised: “We believe automated driving technology will help improve safety while unlocking all-new customer experiences that reduce stress.
“The expertise of the Latitude team will further complement and enhance Ford’s in-house global ADAS team in developing future driver-assist technologies, ultimately delivering on the many benefits of automation.”
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