May 4, 2021

ArgoFord400x275Pittsburgh-based Argo AI has introduced Argo Lidar, which it says overcomes limitations preventing most competitors from commercializing autonomous delivery and ride-hail services. The Argo Self-Driving System (SDS) is capable of 360-degree awareness day or night, and can safely drive on city streets, suburban neighborhoods, and now at highway speeds.

The company said the breakthrough in autonomous vehicle technology was enabled by its 2017 acquisition of Princeton Lightwave, resulting in a sensor for long-distance sensing up to 400 meters, with dark-object detection for safe highway driving. Argo Lidar also offers ultra-high resolution perception, giving photorealistic imaging required to identify small objects for safe operation on more complex 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,” said Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO of Argo AI. “The Argo Self-Driving System delivers the safety, scale, and service experience that businesses want and their customers demand, especially coming out of the pandemic.”

Along with custom-designed sensors and high-performance computing, Argo Lidar is at the center of the Argo SDS. The goal is to handle the most complex aspects of human driving, such as:

  • Seeing the darkest of black-painted vehicles, which often reflect less than 1% of light, even at long range and in the pitch blackness of night;
  • Safely navigating left-hand turns onto roads with oncoming high-speed traffic by utilizing a 360-degree field of view;
  • Managing instant transitions from darkness to bright light, such as when a vehicle leaves or enters a tunnel, which often temporarily blind human drivers;
  • Distinguishing small, moving objects such as animals from vegetation and static objects.

Argo said the innovation behind its lidar is known as “Geiger-mode” sensing. The proprietary innovation can detect the smallest particle of light – a single photon – and is key to sensing objects with low reflectivity. This, combined with a higher-wavelength operation above 1400 nanometers, gives Argo Lidar its unique capabilities, the company said.

Argo AI added that its SDS capabilities, along with its fleet dispatch infrastructure and operations experience, will translate into clear advantages for commercialization, including:

  • Safe operations in cities, suburbs, and on highways, enabling connections from warehouses to urban and suburban routes for middle- and last-mile delivery, or service to the most in-demand ride-hailing routes to and from airports;
  • Scaled operations based on extensive testing and development in six U.S. cities, with additional cities coming online this year, as well as expansion into Europe;
  • A service experience that includes address-to-address routing within urban and suburban areas of operation, maximizing effectiveness for deliveries or commuters.

Argo AI’s collaboration with automotive partners Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group allows it to meet durability requirements for maximizing commercial fleet uptime and improve operations and customer satisfaction, the company said.

“We have unparalleled autonomous driving technology and operations capabilities,” said Salesky. “Proving out these abilities every day, across six cities from our nation’s capital to Miami to Silicon Valley, we are ready to enable the next phase of growth for delivery, retail, and ride-sharing partners.”

The company’s hardware development team is working with a contract manufacturer for the series production of the new lidar sensors, with the first batch of sensors already supporting on-road testing of Argo’s self-driving test vehicle fleet. Volume production plans with Ford and Volkswagen will lead to widespread commercialization, the company added. More details on the company and its technology are available at the Argo AI website.