Many businesses are considering different plans to make automotive artificial intelligence profitable.
The founders of Argo AI – along with automaker partners Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen AG - believe their plan will work. It is different from those of some of their more highly valued rivals.
Argo AI wants to get customers that will use robot vehicles for many purposes, including transporting goods and people.
Background and business plan
Bryan Salesky, the leader of Argo AI, started developing automated vehicles 12 years ago, in a competition.
Argo AI的领导者Bryan Salesky在12年前的一项竞赛中开始开发自动驾驶汽车。
The self-driving systems developer is now at the center of a multibillion-dollar investment. Argo AI and its partners think that self-driving vehicle technology must be good for more than just replacing taxi drivers.
无人驾驶系统开发商现在处于数十亿美元投资的中心。 Argo AI及其合作伙伴认为，自动驾驶汽车技术不仅要取代出租车司机，还必须要有更多好处。
"I hate the word robotaxi," Salesky said in a rare interview at Argo's Pittsburgh headquarters. "There are so many applications and businesses to be built."
A profit-sharing deal is at the heart of The Argo business plan. Ford and VW will pay Argo fees based on the distance traveled by vehicles equipped with Argo's technology. Details of that deal have not been reported until now, notes the Reuters news agency.
Among the possible uses of Argo's technology: Long-distance trucking for e-commerce.
Argo's plan is to provide self-driving systems that Ford will launch in late 2021 in three U.S. cities.
VW leaders told Reuters they expect to follow in 2022 or 2023 with a VW-designed all-electric vehicle.
Some rivals are not persuaded that Argo has any lead.
Glen De Vos is chief technology officer of Aptiv, which recently bought self-driving startups nuTonomy and Ottomatika.
Glen De Vos是Aptiv的首席技术官，该公司最近收购了自动驾驶初创公司nuTonomy和Ottomatika。
He noted Aptiv's partnership with the ride-sharing company Lyft. He said the companies are testing self-driving vehicles, and added that Argo "doesn't have the component engineering capability that Aptiv has."
Investors so far see less value in Argo than companies whose work centers on robotaxis. For example, the company Waymo is valued at $105 billion. Another, Cruise, is valued at $19 billion.
Argo's value is estimated at $7.25 billion following Volkswagen's $1.9 billion investment.
Words in This Story：
application – n. the use of an idea, method, law, etc., in a particular situation or for a particular purpose
component – n. one of the parts of something (such as a system or mixture): an important piece of something
e-commerce -- n. activities that relate to the buying and selling of goods and services over the Internet