Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based autonomous driving technology company in partnership with Dearborn’s Ford Motor Co., has introduced Argo Lidar, which will allow the Argo Self-Driving System to have 360-degree awareness of surrounding objects day and night. Argo also has a Dearborn engineering center.
The development will allow the vehicles to drive on busy streets, in suburban neighborhoods, and at highway speeds.
The breakthrough was enabled by Argo’s 2017 acquisition of Princeton Lightwave, a company that develops long-range lidar. Argo believes the new offering features the longest-distance sensing range capability in the industry at 400 meters. It also offers dark-object detection and ultra-high-resolution perception, which provides photorealistic imaging required to identify small objects for safe operation on city streets.
“Argo Lidar takes us to a whole new level of self-driving technology, unlocking our ability to power both delivery and ride-hail services,” says Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO of Argo AI.
The Argo Self-Driving System capabilities will enable connections from warehouses to urban and suburban routes for middle- and last-mile delivery, or service on ride-hailing routes to and from airports.
It also offers scaled operations based on testing and development in six U.S. cities, with additional cities coming online this year, as well as expansion into Europe.
Finally, it can enable address-to-address routing within urban and suburban areas of operation, allowing for delivery or ride hailing.
Through collaboration with Ford and Volkswagen Group in the technology integration and development of high-quality, commercial-grade self-driving vehicles, Argo can meet durability requirements for maximizing commercial fleet uptimes.
The new offering will allow Argo’s autonomous vehicles to see the darkest painted vehicles, even at night; navigate left-hand turns into oncoming high-speed traffic; manage instant transitions from darkness to bright light, such as when entering or leaving a tunnel; and distinguish small moving objects such as animals from static objects.
The technology behind Argo Lidar is known as Geiger-mode sensing. The lidar can detect the smallest particle of light — a single photon — and is key to sensing objects with low reflectivity. This, combined with higher wavelength operation above 1400 nanometers, gives Argo Lidar its capabilities.
The Argo AI hardware development team is working with a contract manufacturer for series production of the new lidar sensor. The first batch of sensors is already supporting on-road testing of Argo’s self-driving test vehicle fleet. Soon, volume production plans with Ford and Volkswagen are expected to lead to commercialization of autonomous delivery and ride-hail services.
Argo AI has more than 1,200 employees and additional engineering centers in New Jersey, California, and Germany. The company is testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in Miami, Austin, and Washington, D.C., as well as in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and California.