The road to autonomous vehicles leads to nowhere. At least, that’s the case for Argo AI, which is shutting down at the behest of its biggest investors, Ford and Volkswagen. Argo AI’s technology won’t go to waste, as it will contribute to new “driver assistance” features in Ford and VW vehicles.
It seems that Argo AI’s unprofitable nature is the reason for this shutdown. Both Ford and VW reported increased operating costs and lackluster revenue during their third-quarter earnings calls on October 25th. Pulling a few billion dollars out of their autonomous car investment only makes sense—shareholders aren’t interested in experimental technology right now (just look at what’s happening to Meta).
As TechCrunch reports, employees at Argo AI learned of the shutdown during an all-hands meeting on October 25th. Many of the 2,000 employees will receive a generous severance package (with health insurance, bonuses, and all that), while other employees will receive a job at Ford or VW.
“In coordination with our shareholders, the decision has been made that Argo AI will not continue on its mission as a company. Many of the employees will receive an opportunity to continue work on automated driving technology with either Ford or Volkswagen, while employment for others will unfortunately come to an end.”
Now that self-driving cars are off the table, Ford and VW will focus on Level 2 or Level 3 autonomous vehicle technologies—automatic lane changing, smart cruise control, and so on. (Still, Ford and VW may purchase autonomous vehicle companies in the future.)
Self-driving car companies, including Argo AI, Tesla, and Waymo, regularly make unrealistic promises about their technology. At one point, Argo AI said we’d have driverless taxis in 2021! After plenty of broken promises (plus an economic downturn), it’s no surprise that autonomous cars aren’t receiving much love.
Anyway, send some well wishes to Waymo. It recently unleashed a fleet of driverless cars in San Francisco.