After cutting ties with Argo AI last fall, Ford has decided to establish an in-house division for development of automated driving systems.

Called Latitude AI, the 550-staff division will initially focus on developing a hands-free, eyes-off driver-assist system for Ford vehicles, similar to systems such as Mercedes-Benz's Drive Pilot and Volvo's Ride Pilot. In contrast, Argo AI was developing a fully automated driving system to be used in a commercial service, like a robotaxi fleet.

Ford's current BlueCruise automated driver-assist system and the related Lincoln ActiveGlide system still require the driver to monitor the road at all times. As a result, they only rank at Level 2 on the SAE scale of self-driving technology. Latitude AI is developing a Level 3 system, the first level where a driver is able to take his or her eyes off the road.

Ford owned Argo AI together with Volkswagen Group, and most of the facilities and staff at Latitude AI are former Argo AI employees, Ford said. Latitude AI's headquarters are also in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Argo AI was headquartered. The new company has additional engineering hubs in Michigan and California. The company will also operate a test track in South Carolina to simulate highway driving.

Heading Latitude AI is Sammy Omari, who is also head of automated driver-assist technology at Ford and was previously head of engineering at Hyundai Motor Group-backed self-driving technology company Motional. Peter Carr, a former senior engineer at Argo AI, serves as chief technology officer at Latitude AI.

After cutting its own ties with Argo AI, VW Group continues to develop automated driving technology at its in-house software division Cariad. The automaker also plans to announce a new partner for its planned robotaxi service due to launch in 2025, a service that was previously being developed with Argo AI.