Ford creates a new Robotics and AI research team

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Ford is creating a new Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Research team that will operate under Ford’s Research and Advanced Engineering department aimed at boosting the technology department for the automaker as autonomy and mobility become important parts of the company.


Ford's VP of Research and Engineering and CTO Dr. Ken Washington revealed the new research group via a Medium post. The team will work with Argo AI, the startup that Ford took a majority stake via a large investment. It'll help with the work on drones, personal mobility platforms, automation and aerial robotics.

Outside the autonomous development, the Robotics and AI team will look at ways to implement robotics in "ergonomically difficult tasks," continue relationship building with startup companies and lead projects with University of Michigan, Stanford University, MIT and other universities.

"This is the next step in Ford's automation history," Washington wrote. "This decision is driving energy with everyone on our team, as it clearly indicates the direction of Ford Motor Company. Because we understand the science of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, we can establish a team tasked with not just watching the future but helping to create it."

The new Robotics team will collaborate with Argo so "they can someday put this promising emerging technology to work in future generations of self-driving vehicles," Washington wrote. Washington also discussed how in the future we'll see at least two separate fleets of self-driving vehicles on the road operated by Ford: one led by Ford's own team pursuing advanced research and another led by Argo AI focussed on development and testing of the virtual driver system Ford intends to bring to production in time for 2021 deployment of its ride-hailing fleet.

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