Argo AI

Argo AI is the self-driving startup backed by Ford, the founders of the company are giving their alma mater in order to invest $15 million in Carnegie Mellon University to fund the creation of a new autonomous vehicle research center. The startup founded by former executives from Google’s and Uber’s autonomous technology divisions.

The center will primarily focus on advanced perception and decision-making algorithms for autonomous vehicles, the company said Monday. Argo AI says that $15 million goes to fund faculty leaders and support graduate students conducting studies in pursuit of their doctorates. The company wants Carnegie Mellon students to engage in autonomous vehicle research access to data, infrastructure, and platforms like Argoverse, a curated corpus of more than 300,000 vehicle trajectories and 290 kilometers of recorded road lanes.

Argo along with Ford is currently testing its vehicles in Miami, Washington, DC, Palo Alto, and, most recently, Detroit will incorporate research into advanced perception and next-generation decision-making algorithms for autonomous vehicles. They want to make software and hardware that will operate a self-driving car’s ability to see and think.

In a blog post, Argo scientist and associate professor at Carnegie Mellon Deva Ramanan explains that the center will work on smart sensor fusion, 3D scene understanding, urban scene simulation, map-based perception, imitation and reinforcement learning, behavioral prediction, and software validation as they relate to driverless vehicle technology. It will also pursue projects which assist self-driving cars to overcome hurdles like weather or construction zones, and Ramanan expects its work will spur engagements on topics like safety policy and ethics.

Ramanan will work as a center’s faculty leader along with Simon Lucey, who is an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute specializing in computer vision. The other team member includes John Dolan, David Held, and Jeff Schneider. Moreover, Autonomous vehicles are being tested in small batch deployments in various cities around the world. But they are still a long way from global deployment.

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For the car to be distributed globally they need to be proven safe to operate in all types of road and weather conditions. Users hesitate in using AI technology but they really need to trust the technology. Plus the rides have to cheap and more efficient than taxis, ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, and personally owned vehicles.

Last week, the company released its HD maps dataset Argoverse. Making datasets like these that will available to the research community to help compare the process of different machine learning approaches to solve the problem. Not forget to mention that Argo is not the only company for investing in the research community. Last year, Intel launched the Institute for Automated Mobility in a driverless testing hotbed of Phoenix, Arizona.