Ford Motor Company has established Latitude AI, a wholly-owned subsidiary focused on developing a hands-free, eyes-off-the-road automated driving system for millions of vehicles.
With the formation of Latitude, Ford says it is adding a leading team of machine learning, robotics, software, sensors, systems engineering, and operations talent as it grows and expands its development efforts in automated driving technology, including advancements in Ford BlueCruise, which has accumulated more than 50 million miles of hands-free driving.
Ford said Latitude is re-imagining the customer experience by automating driving during times that can be tedious, stressful, and unpleasant, such as bumper-to-bumper traffic or on long stretches of highway. According to transportation analytics firm Inrix, the average driver in the US spends nearly 100 hours a year sitting in traffic.
“We see automated driving technology as an opportunity to redefine the relationship between people and their vehicles,” said Doug Field, Chief Advanced Product Development And Technology Officer at the Ford Motor Company. “Customers using BlueCruise are already experiencing the benefits of hands-off driving. The deep experience and talent in our Latitude team will help us accelerate the development of all-new automated driving technology with the goal of not only making travel safer, less stressful, and more enjoyable, but ultimately over time giving our customers some of their day back.”
Ford says establishing Latitude supports its strategic shift last year to focus on automated driving technologies for personally owned vehicles. Ford hired about 550 employees, formerly from Argo AI, across machine learning and robotics, cloud platforms, mapping, sensors and computer systems, test operations, systems and safety engineering. The Latitude team has applied much of its experience in automated driving, including software development tools and infrastructure, in pivoting to work on advanced driver assist systems (ADAS).
“We believe automated driving technology will help improve safety while unlocking all-new customer experiences that reduce stress and, in the future, help free up a driver’s time to focus on what they choose,” said Sammy Omari, Executive Director ADAS Technologies at Ford, who will also be CEO of Latitude. “The expertise of the Latitude team will further complement and enhance Ford’s in-house global ADAS team in developing future driver assist technologies, ultimately delivering on the many benefits of automation.”