Argo AI execs return with new company funded by Japan’s SoftBank

Graham Hope

September 12, 2023

3 Min Read
A Stack AV self-driving truck on a highway.
Stack AV

The team behind doomed self-driving start-up Argo AI is back – with a new autonomous trucking company, Stack AV.

The news comes 11 months after the autonomous vehicle industry was left reeling when major backers Ford and Volkswagen pulled the plug on Argo AI.

But now Argo AI’s executive leaders have bounced back with the formation of Stack AV, which has already secured significant funding from Japan’s SoftBank.

Steering the new operation will be founder and CEO Bryan Salesky, president Pete Rander and chief technology officer Brett Browning, and their main focus will be harnessing the potential of self-driving trucks for successful commercialization.

Already Stack AV – which just like Argo AI, is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – has 150 employees across several states.

Perhaps of more significance, though, is the backing from Japan’s giant SoftBank Group. Although no figures have officially been revealed as to the size of the investment, Stack AV has confirmed it is “supporting the company with capital, resources, and deep expertise in AI to help accelerate its growth and technological developments.”

Some media outlets, however, have reported that the funding could stretch to $1 billion.

Explaining the formation of the new company, Salesky said: “As consumer consumption patterns evolve, businesses increasingly need AI-driven, intelligent and reliable supply chains. 

Related:Ford, VW End Self-Driving Operations, Argo Closed

“With our proprietary technology and expertise, as well as the commitment from our long-term partner in SoftBank, we are confident we will revolutionize the trucking and freight industries by driving improvements in efficiency and safety and alleviating supply chain constraints for our customers, helping them reach their goals and advance their missions.”

Stack’s immediate priority is recruiting more staff, and a number of positions are already being advertised on its website. At the same time, it is understood to have already started testing, although its trucks have had human operators at the wheel.

In some respects, the gravitation of the Argo AI team toward trucking reflects the general trend in the autonomous driving tech industry, where the perception is that self-driving heavy goods vehicles may be easier to deliver than autonomous passenger cars.

Both Ford and VW cited the vast expense of their programs when pulling out of Argo AI, indicating a preference to concentrate instead on prioritizing their less advanced driver assistance technologies. While autonomous trucking is not without its challenges – as seen by the demise of Embark and problems encountered by TuSimple – it is generally accepted to offer more immediate commercial potential than self-driving passenger cars.

Related:Self-Driving Trucking Company Embark Sold in $71M Deal

Kentaro Matsui, head of new business at SoftBank Group, added: “The next decade will be defined by AI, where all social systems will be linked by this technology to solve the most complex societal issues. By applying the strengths of AI-powered technology to the trucking industry, Stack AV will fundamentally change the transportation of goods and supply chains across the globe.”

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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