Ford has made another big bet on the future of self-driving cars, investing $1 billion in previously unknown startup Argo AI. "The next decade will be defined by the automation of the automobile," Ford CEO Mark Fields said in a statement, per Ars Technica, predicting that self-driving technology will change the world as much as the Ford assembly line did a century ago. The investment buys a lot of self-driving know-how for Ford: Argo AI CEO Bryan Salesky worked on Google's self-driving car program for years, while co-founder Peter Rander spent years with Uber's program, CNN reports.
Ford is now the majority stakeholder in the startup and Fields says that while it is now a subsidiary "from an accounting standpoint," Argo will be given a lot of independence. Equity in the firm will be offered to tempt engineers away from other companies, the Verge reports. Salesky tells the Detroit Free Press that they spoke to several possible partners and decided they were most impressed by Ford's vision for self-driving vehicles. "When we talked to others, it was very clear that Ford was one of the few manufacturers that really understands the full ecosystem that needs to come together for self-driving cars," he says. (Read more self-driving car stories.)