Carnegie Mellon and Ford Developing Smarter Self-Drive Cars

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Watch out Silicon Valley, Pittsburgh is racing to take the lead in research and development of self-driving cars. Carnegie Mellon University and Argo AI announced they’re building a center aimed at finding solutions for autonomous vehicles over the next 5-10 years. The $15-million grant is intended to specifically target driving situations that leave today’s self-drive vehicles floundering, such as snowy weather conditions or unexpected construction zones.

  • Carnegie Mellon University and Ford-backed Argo AI announce partnership
  • $15-million grant will fund research into long-term solutions for self-drive cars
  • Pittsburgh is fast becoming a hub for autonomous drive research

Founded in 2016, Argo AI has $1-billion dollar’s worth of investment behind it from Ford Motor Company. The American automaker announced it was backing the tech firm as part of a five-year plan, intended to speed up the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles. The founders of the Pittsburgh-based start-up have backgrounds in other tech and mobility firms, such as Google and Uber, and also count themselves as alumni of Carnegie Mellon University.

“Argo AI, Pittsburgh and the entire autonomous vehicle industry have benefited from Carnegie Mellon’s leadership,” said Bryan Salesky, CEO and co-founder of Argo AI. “CMU and now Argo AI are two big reasons why Pittsburgh will remain the center of the universe for self-driving technology.”

Ford has invested heavily on the future of self-driving vehicles. Photo: Ford

in 2017, at the time of Ford’s investment in Argo AI, the automaker said it intended to have a Level-4 autonomous drive vehicle on the road by 2021. The agreement with Carnegie Mellon intends to focus on challenges relating to this ambitious timeframe, to develop vehicle capabilities that can cope with inclement weather or sudden changes in a driving environment. At the moment, autonomous drive sensors can be confused and rendered useless in these types of situations.

Being based in Pittsburgh certainly helps when it comes to putting autonomous drive technology to the test when the weather doesn’t cooperate. The vast majority of self-drive programs are being conducted in the Southeast, in sunny climates where rain (much less snow) doesn’t pose a challenge to the vehicle’s behavior.

Carnegie Mellon and Argo AI intend to publish their findings for the general public, a move that will make the autonomous drive research center’s findings open and available to others pushing to make self-drive vehicles a reality.

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