Argo AI Gives Its Ford Escape Hybrid A Big Autonomous Update

Illustration for article titled Argo AI Gives Its Ford Escape Hybrid A Big Autonomous Update
Photo: Argo

Argo, alongside its partnerships with Ford and Volkswagen, has been working on the autonomous car project for quite a while now—and the company has now updated its suite of hardware to further improve the autonomous experience. We’ll run you through what we’re looking at.


According to Argo’s Friday release, the upgraded tech is more affordable and much closer to being automotive grade, which basically means that it can withstand tons of different climates and extreme conditions. Whether your car is baking in the Texas sun or battling a Minnesota blizzard, this tech will need to be functioning at its best.

Argo focused on quite a few different areas for improvement, but the most important are its lidar, radar, and camera technologies.

Photo: Argo

Previously, Argo’s lidar system was a little bit scattered. Now, it’s been condensed into a single unit that has a longer visual range, which basically means that it’s more efficient and can make better predictions about what it can see ahead of you. Plus, the company added fans and water jets to help the system regulate its own temperature and cleanliness. The upgraded radar also focuses on long-range improvements, which means the car will be able to travel faster.

Cameras are another important factor, and Argo has added both near-field and far-field high-definition cameras that can cope with changing—and challenging—lighting situations. Even when you’re dealing with glaring headlights in the pitch black night, Argo is going to be able to keep your car on course. Always a good thing.

To really stay on top of things, Argo is using two self-driving computer systems. The first and main system, called the Autonomous Vehicle System, takes on pretty much all of the car’s autonomous technologies. So, any processing and directing that needs to be done will come from this computer. The second, accurately titled the Complementary Autonomous Vehicle System, hosts some of the collision avoidance technology but is primarily there as a backup in case the first computer fails.


All of which is very cool stuff—but it’s still difficult to evaluate Argo’s technology in light of, say, updates that Waymo has made. Right now, we can really only judge by appearances, and Argo still hasn’t updated the body armor its cars have to wear to actually be able to use all this new tech. Maybe that’s its next step.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.



I adore when cars take cues from nature. In this case Argo has seamlessly integrated the chipmunk’s cheeks and camel’s hump.

I look forward to a future where bystanders assume the google maps car is chauffeuring me about.