Ford, VW seeking buyer for Argo AI’s lidar unit • TechCrunch

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Ford and Volkswagen are trying to squeeze any remaining value out of Argo AI, the autonomous car startup in which automakers have invested billions before shut it down suddenly last week. A key component of the block: Argo Lidar, an 80-person team and the lidar technology they developed, according to people familiar with the company’s break-up.

Argo AI She was barely a year old when she acquired New Jersey-based startup Princeton Lightwave in October 2017. The acquisition, backed by Ford, was hailed years later as helping to provide a key piece of technology in the Argo system. For full self-driving.

Lidar, a light-detection and range radar that measures distance using laser light to create a high-resolution 3D map of the world, is considered by most in the industry a critical sensor required to safely deploy autonomous vehicles on a commercial scale.

The team, which is still based in Princeton, has developed a medium and Long range lidar sensors.

Argo said its long-range lidar has the ability to see up to 400 meters with realistic high-resolution image quality and the ability to detect dark and distant objects with low reflection. In May 2021, Argo CEO and co-founder Bryan Salesky told TechCrunch that the lidar sensor had been developed to be cost-effective and mass-produced, two important factors for any company trying to commercialize autonomous vehicle technology.

Argo Lidar . Point Cloud

Argo Lidar point cloud.

LG Innotek, a South Korean electronic component manufacturer, began manufacturing lidar modules for Argo this year. Sources say there has been interest from companies in other sectors – meaning outside the AV world – to buy Argo Lidar sensors. It’s unclear if any of these interested parties would jump in buying the entire LiDAR team.

Meanwhile, some of Argo’s global workforce of 2,000 receive offers from Ford and VW. Combined, the two automakers invested $3.6 billion in Argo — $2 billion in cash and $1.6 billion in value when it acquired Volkswagen’s Autonomous Intelligent Driving and became its own entity called Argo AI GmbH.

VW plans to take Munich-based Argo AI GmbH, an office of more than one person, many of whom were previously part of AID, back into the company. VW is also offering jobs to about 100 former US-based Argo employees, a move that indicates the automaker is keen to set up some operations in the US.

According to sources, “several hundred” employees will be offered jobs at Ford.

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