Welcome back to The Stack, a monthly newsletter from Argo AI featuring the best content about the field we’re all so passionate about: self-driving cars.
Argo’s footprint around the world continues to grow. This month, we began mapping and testing the Volkswagen ID. BUZZ autonomous driving test vehicle on the public streets of Hamburg, Germany. It’s the second German city where we’re testing on public roads, after beginning with Munich last month. That brings us to eight cities around the globe, giving us what we believe to be the largest urban testing footprint of any self-driving technology company.
And importantly, it continues to build our momentum toward launching a ride-pooling service in conjunction with Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and MOIA in Hamburg in 2025. Read more about our operations in Hamburg on Ground Truth.
*Hallo is German for “Hello”
It’s so natural for people that you hardly think about it, but safe drivers need to be able to detect and classify what’s around them — whether it’s something they’ve seen before, or something entirely new and unusual.
To do this, the Argo Self-Driving System uses two main types of detection: closed-world, comparing what the car’s many exterior sensors see to the different objects the system already recognizes from millions of labeled images; and open world, a detection technique used for unrecognizable objects, which Argo test cars respond to with a wide berth.
Closed-world detection helps the Argo Self-Driving System identify vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, bicyclists, scooter riders, and others lacking the protection of a larger vehicle around them. How does the system reliably detect these common objects and what steps does it take to keep them safe? Ground Truth’s got the intel.
Importantly: safe self-driving doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. Argo’s self-driving tech works in daytime and at night, even when encountering dark objects. Get enlightened here.
And, with Halloween coming this weekend, you’ll be happy to know that Argo’s open-world detection system is built to drive naturally and safely even around spooky, strange sights like a three-headed monster costume (or whatever creepy character you’re choosing to be this year).
It’s not just the safety of humans that’s important to us here at Argo. In order to test how the Argo Self-Driving System responds to dogs suddenly running into the road, our engineers built a “puppy rover,” a prop version of a canine that they put in the path of self-driving test vehicles on our closed course in Western Pennsylvania.
After all, what better companion for an artificial intelligence than an artificial pup? Fetch the full story here at Ground Truth.
The puppy rover is just one of many creative props built by Argo engineers as part of our structured testing process, which involves putting various custom-built objects and scenarios in the way of our test vehicles on a closed course. You may have read previously about our mud cannon, another structured test.
You can also read about the robotic cooler our engineers built to prepare our vehicles for the growing number of small delivery robots operating on college campuses and in cities. Because we want to look out for your pizza deliveries, too.
All of us at Argo were honored to host U.S. and EU leaders last month at our self-driving test vehicle depot in Pittsburgh. In attendance were U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, European Commission Executive Vice Presidents Valdis Dombrovskis and Margrethe Vestager, and their staff.
The officials were visiting on a two-day trip to the city that served as the first gathering of the EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council, whose overall objective is to promote U.S. and EU competitiveness and prosperity.
It was great to see the council members’ interaction with our Fleet Operations team, including our Test Specialists who safely monitor our test vehicles while they’re on the road.
As Argo AI CEO Bryan Salesky said in a statement: “It was a privilege to showcase Argo AI’s autonomous vehicle development and testing operations across the U.S. and in Germany. We were proud to represent a part of Pittsburgh’s technological excellence and have an exchange about important policy issues.”
Argo is all about building safe transportation tech for today and tomorrow, but we also find it hugely valuable to look back at the history and culture of innovation that came before.
The new season of the No Parking Podcast took a dive into innovations of the past on recent episodes, including one about the surprisingly thrilling competition within the early elevator industry, and another episode featuring an interview with a college professor who asked students to study how society greeted historic technology advancements like the washing machine. Don’t miss out on the insightful conversations with expert guests and co-host Alex Roy (Ground Truth columnist) about what the past can tell us about today’s self-driving tech. Subscribe now to hear content from all three seasons.
For fans of sci-fi, film, and video games, Ground Truth’s ongoing series of articles, “Nostalgia-Driven,” has you covered. In it, we celebrate the imaginary vehicular technology cult favorites from the past, beginning with James Bond’s driverless BMW in the Pierce Brosnan-led Tomorrow Never Dies, to the transforming boat-car at the center of the 1983 arcade game classic Spy Hunter, to the Batmobile from the Tim Burton movies, and more.
Have some cherished fictional tech you want us to consider for this column, especially of the autonomous vehicle variety? Email Stack@argo.ai with your ideas.
We’re proud of the many employees at Argo who work on Argo Lidar, our proprietary, in-house laser sensor with detection of up to 400 meters (1,312 feet), which just won the Automotive Hardware Sensor Solution of the Year award from AutoTech Breakthrough.
A Volkswagen ID.4 has completed the longest journey in one country by a non-solar electric vehicle so far, traveling 35,000 miles across the U.S. in 100 days, making 208 stops to charge.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has an impressive new model of car on his security detail: a Ford Mustang Mach-E.
See some other cool/important/strange/noteworthy autonomy links you want to share? We’ll take them at Stack@argo.ai! We may just include your recommendations in a future edition of this newsletter.
Check out some of our many openings across the U.S. and Germany — plus remote offerings, too.
…and many, many more in various locations. The full list is here.
If you want more stories like these, plus info on what we’re up to, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter!
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