Ford created a new subsidiary to develop automated driving systems called Latitude AI, the automaker announced Thursday. Based in Pittsburgh, the company will build on technologies like Ford's Blue Cruise to bring more advanced driver assistance features to its fleet of road cars. In its own words, the organization's stated goal is to develop "a hands-free, eyes-off-the-road automated driving system for millions of vehicles." The news comes months after Ford shuttered its previous autonomous driving subsidiary, Argo AI, which focused more on ridesharing and so-called robotaxis and was co-owned with Volkswagen.
The Dearborn, Michican, automaker's announcement represents a shift to focus on self-driving technology in personal vehicles instead of ridesharing. It also aligns with other companies' approaches. The CEO of General Motors' autonomous subsidiary, Cruise, was allegedly fired in 2021 after a reluctance to focus on applying the technology to regular cars as opposed to taxi-like vehicles, which he allegedly preferred. Tesla, likewise, has been developing assisted-driving technology in people's personal cars before moving to robotaxis.
The move by Ford likely relates to generating more revenue through software and subscription services. Both GM and Ford have stated in the past that they plan to get more revenue from consumers after they purchase their respective vehicles. For GM, this has meant charging for its hands-free highway driving system Super Cruise after what is effectively a multi-year trial. It has also begun charging for OnStar's connected services in some of its cars. Ford's CEO Jim Farley has likewise expressed interest in adding value to cars after they're purchased via over-the-air updates.
Ford says 550 former Argo AI employees have been hired to work at Latitude. The automaker's executive director of ADAS Technologies, Sammy Omari, will serve as its CEO. Peter Carr and David Gollob have been named chief technology officer and president, respectively.
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