Ford’s self-driving Argo AI unit has hit a major milestone. On Tuesday, it began driverless operations in Austin and Miami. The company’s cars aren’t carrying paying customers just yet, but they’re now allowed to ferry Argo AI employees without a safety driver at the wheel. Argo called the announcement an “important step” in its plan to commercialize autonomous driving technology by providing a suite of APIs designed to allow ridesharing, delivery and logistics companies to incorporate its vehicles into their own services.
Argo is one of a handful of companies competing in the already crowded space, and a clear winner has yet to emerge. At the start of the year, GM’s Cruise began offering public driverless taxi rides in San Francisco, but when they’re not being pulled over by confused cops, the company’s cars are limited to off-peak hours. Waymo, meanwhile, recently began testing fully driverless cars in San Francisco, but its Arizona service is only partly open to those outside of its Trusted Tester program.