Argo applied for a driverless testing permit with the California DMV, aiming to test seven of its fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrids in Los Altos, California.  -  Photo: Argo AI

Argo applied for a driverless testing permit with the California DMV, aiming to test seven of its fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrids in Los Altos, California.

Photo: Argo AI

Autonomous vehicle technology company Argo AI, announced in a statement the launch of driverless testing operations in Miami and Austin.

Argo said in the statement it will be running its driverless operations during “daytime business hours.” Those hours will extend over time, and eventually include evening, as testing continues. For now, the service is limited to company employees, who will have access to the service via an internally developed Argo app.

Argo is working with Ford to launch commercial pilots in both of these cities, including an integration with Lyft’s ride-hailing platform and a grocery delivery program with Walmart. Argo’s pilot programs with Lyft and Walmart will continue to have a human safety operator behind the wheel for now. Over time, the driverless operations will be integrated with its commercial partners. Under state law in Florida and Texas, commercial fleets can charge for driverless services.

Argo aims to sell the self-driving system to businesses as well as offer a suite of products like fleet management, customer support, and scheduling to those that want these other services.

The company is also testing its autonomous vehicles in Palo Alto, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C.. and Hamburg, Germany. In April, Argo announced plans to establish a closed-course track in the SC Technology and Aviation Center in Greenville County, South Carolina. The track, its fourth closed-course facility, will be dedicated to highway-speed testing as the company advances toward commercial autonomous operations across multiple cities.

“Argo is able to scale because we have marshaled an extraordinary amount of data from diverse use cases and locations,” said Brett Browning, chief technology officer, in a blog post. “We’ve focused on analyzing real-world learnings from operating in the busiest neighborhoods of eight cities on two continents, facing complex traffic scenarios, including unprotected turns and intersections with occlusions, cyclists, and people walking outside crosswalks. We also analyzed seemingly endless data to optimize day and nighttime driving, since middle- and last-mile deliveries tend to happen during the day, and ride-shares span day and night.”

“We’re getting more and more interested as a company, maybe a bit of a strategic shift, on goods movement,” added Ford CEO Jim Farley. “It’s aligned with our commercial vehicle business and our customers feel they’re getting more and more interested in middle mile, specifically.” Last month, Farley noted during a Q1 2022 earnings call that the company was becoming more focused on “middle-mile” delivery.

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