Argo AI, an autonomous vehicle startup backed by Ford, has committed to investing US$15m over a five-year period to fund a new research facility at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Pennsylvania, dedicated to the advancement of self-driving technologies.
The CMU Argo AI Center for Autonomous Vehicle Research will pursue research projects into advanced perception technologies and next-generation decision-making algorithms, among others, helping AVs to better operate in real-world scenarios such as winter weather or construction zones.
“We are thrilled to deepen our partnership with Argo AI to shape the future of self-driving technologies,” said CMU president Farnam Jahanian. “This investment allows our researchers to continue to lead at the nexus of technology and society, and to solve society’s most pressing problems. Together, Argo AI and CMU will accelerate critical research in autonomous vehicles while building on the momentum of CMU’s culture of innovation.”
Carnegie Mellon has been developing autonomous driving technology for more than 30 years. The university’s expertise and its graduates have attracted a number of self-driving car companies to establish operations in Pittsburgh. Argo AI was founded in 2016 by a team of CMU alumni and experts from across the industry.
“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. “It’s an honor to support development of the next-generation of leaders and help unlock the full potential of autonomous vehicle technology. CMU and now Argo AI are two big reasons why Pittsburgh will remain the center of the universe for self-driving technology.”
In addition to Argo, CMU performs related research supported by General Motors, Uber and other transportation companies.
“Carnegie Mellon has always been at the leading edge of fundamental research on self-driving cars, and this new agreement with Argo AI will help us continue to expand the frontiers of these important technologies,” said J Michael McQuade, CMU’s vice president of research. “With Argo’s support, our faculty and particularly our students will be better prepared to tackle the next wave of technical challenges facing autonomous vehicles.”
Deva Ramanan, an associate professor in the Robotics Institute who also serves as machine learning lead at Argo AI, will be the center’s principal investigator. The center’s research will be conducted at the Robotics Institute and involve faculty members and students from across CMU.
The center will give students access to the fleet-scale datasets, vehicles and large-scale infrastructure that are crucial for advancing self-driving technologies and, that otherwise would be difficult to obtain.
The research will address a number of technical topics, including smart sensor fusion, 3D scene understanding, urban scene simulation, map-based perception, imitation and reinforcement learning, behavioral prediction and robust validation of software. Research findings will be reported in open scientific literature for use by the entire field.