Ford Hires 550 in Pittsburgh for New Autonomous Driving Venture

Manufacturing giant launches Latitude AI, resumes push for self-driving software

By Rick Wills

Published March 6, 2023

Read Time: 3 mins


Ford Motor Co. has recently hired more than 500 people in Pittsburgh to work on developing autonomous vehicles after announcing the creation of a new subsidiary called Latitude AI.

The hirees are largely former employees of Argo AI, a developer of software for autonomous driving that had been based in Pittsburgh. Argo closed last year after Ford and Volkswagen AG pulled investment from the startup company.

If Argo’s entirely self-driving car proved too ambitious to develop at once, Ford’s decision shows that large automakers still want phased-in development of the technology, said Audrey Russo, president of the Pittsburgh Technology Council.

“Ford is saying, ‘We’re back in.’ Ford hasn’t given up on Pittsburgh,” said Russo, who described Argo’s goal of a fully autonomous car as “a moonshot.”

Automakers like Ford are now more likely to phase in various features of autonomous vehicles over time rather than trying to unveil a full autonomous vehicle, she said. (Some features, like self-parallel parking, are in cars now on the market.)

Ford says it will shift funding for autonomous driving from the advanced L4 automated driver tech made by Argo to less advanced L2 and L3 driver-assistance technology.

Ford reported a $2.7 billion loss from its investment in Argo, leading the company to report an $827 million loss in last year’s third quarter.

Autonomous vehicle technology will improve traffic safety and fuel efficiency, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. It will also expand driving to those who cannot drive because of disabilities and those who drive with restrictions, such as no night driving.

“This technology is not just some gimmick,” Russo said.

Investment haven

Pittsburgh is a particular draw for companies wanting sophisticated software and robotics. The city’s universities have been on the cutting edge of such technology for decades.

Still, Russo said the current economic climate is hard for any business.

“They had to make hard decisions,” she said of Ford’s decision last year to pull funding from Argo. “There are a lot of hurdles to a startup.”

Latitude will operate out of the same office occupied by Argo in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

Ford expects Latitude to improve its advanced driver assistance technology, BlueCruise, which allows drivers in some Ford vehicles to drive hands-off along major highways and roads across the country as long as they keep their eyes on the road.

Eventually, Ford says, Latitude will develop a hands-free and eyes-off-the-road automated driving system for millions of its vehicles.

“Customers using BlueCruise are already experiencing the benefits of hands-off driving,” said  Doug Field, chief advanced product development and technology officer at Ford.

“The deep experience and talent in our Latitude team will help us accelerate the development of all-new automated driving technology—with the goal of not only making travel safer, less stressful and more enjoyable, but ultimately over time giving our customers some of their day back.”

Sammy Omari, executive director of advanced driver assistance systems technologies at Ford, will serve as the CEO of Latitude. Peter Carr will serve as chief technology officer, and David Gollob is the subsidiary’s president. Carr and Gollob are both former Argo employees.

In addition to Pittsburgh, Latitude will maintain engineering hubs in Dearborn, Michigan, where Ford is headquartered, and Palo Alto, California, both former Argo outposts.

It will also operate a highway-grade test track facility in Greenville, South Carolina.

“We believe automated driving technology will help improve safety while unlocking all-new customer experiences that reduce stress and, in the future, will help free up a driver’s time to focus on what they choose,” Omari said.

“The expertise of the Latitude team will further complement and enhance Ford’s in-house global ADAS team in developing future driver assist technologies, ultimately delivering on the many benefits of automation.”

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