Artificial Intelligence: Self-Driving Startup Argo AI Shuts Down, Parts To Be Absorbed By Backers Ford, VW

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Argo AI had raised $3.6 billion in funding.

The signs were all there. In July, Argo AI, the self-driving startup backed by Ford (NYSE: F) and Volkswagen (ETR: VOW) laid off 150 jobs and slowed down its hiring. At the time the company attributed the action to “prudent adjustments to our business plan.” Three months down the line, Argo has downed shutters, with parts of it being taken over by Ford and VW. (Silicon Angle)

Argo announced “it will not continue on its mission as a company,” and that the decision to cease operations was made “in coordination with our shareholders.” Ford and Volkswagen assumed control of Argo AI in July 2019 and currently hold about 39% each, while Lyft Inc (NASDAQ: LYFT) has 2%.

On Wednesday, Ford reported a $2.7 billion impairment on its investment in Argo. CFO John Lawler said the it wanted instead to focus on advanced driver-assist systems such as its BlueCruise hands-free highway driving system and other operations that aren’t considered “fully autonomous.”

“It’s become very clear that profitable, fully autonomous vehicles at scale are still a long way off,” Lawler told reporters. “We’ve also concluded that we don’t necessarily have to create that technology ourselves.”

Argo employees were informed at an all-hands meet, also on Wednesday. Only some of the employees would be absorbed by Ford and Volkswagen; however, all employees would receive severance monies including insurance and two separate bonuses — an annual award plus a transaction bonus.

Employees not taken over by the two automakers would receive additional termination and severance pay plus health insurance.

Related Story: Argo AI Appoints A Safety Advisory Council For Its Autonomous Vehicle Technology

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