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10 Best Startups to Watch 2020

Self-Driving Technology You Can Trust: Argo AI


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taken the automotive industry by storm to drive the development of autonomous vehicles. Simply put, the reason behind this explosion of AI is the humongous amount of data that we have available today. With the help of connected devices and services, we are able to collect data in every industry, thus fueling the AI revolution. While efforts are being made to rapidly improve sensors and cameras to generate data with autonomous vehicles. We are building autonomous vehicles that drive themselves, but we want them to drive like human drivers do. That means we need to provide these vehicles with the sensory functions, cognitive functions (memory, logical thinking, decision-making and learning) and executive capabilities that humans use to drive vehicles.

The automotive industry is continuously evolving to achieve exactly this over the last few years. As the amount of information being fed into IVI (in-vehicle infotainment) units or telematics systems grows, vehicles will be able to capture and share not only internal system status and location data but also the changes in its surroundings, all in real time. Autonomous vehicles are being fitted with cameras, sensors and communication systems to enable the vehicle to generate massive amounts of data which, when applied with AI, enables the vehicle to see, hear, think and make decisions just like human drivers do.

Argo AI is one such Pittsburg based technology platform company working with leading automakers to deliver a fully integrated self-driving system that makes getting around cities safe, easy, and enjoyable for all. Its team has an extensive experience in robotics and artificial intelligence complements and their partners’ expertise in manufacturing high-quality vehicles at scale to build self-driving technology you can trust. Argo AI was founded on the principles underlying safety-critical systems in the aviation, military, maritime, and automotive sectors. Everyone at Argo AI contributes their unique experiences to this shared mindset.

Argo AI’s self-driving technology

Self-driving technology has a profound potential to transform the way people live and get around. By working with its partners, local communities and governments, Argo AI will support local transportation needs around the world – to ultimately make getting around cities safe, easy, and enjoyable for all. All of that movement can sometimes be challenging. Some neighborhoods lack public transportation options or affordable alternatives. Some modes aren’t accessible to young people or those with disabilities. Some bus routes suffer from traffic congestion. And, let’s face it, sometimes people just want more convenient and comfortable ways to get around. At Argo AI, they don’t accept that kind of normal. If done right, self-driving technology has the potential to help solve these problems and more.

Outside of the immediate challenges, there are the less apparent ones – the kind that disappear into the folds of everyday life: The ways cars interact with pedestrians, the ways pedestrians interact with bicyclists, and the number of traffic fatalities too many communities around the world accept as normal. The 360-degree awareness of Argo AI’s self-driving technology, and the fact that it never gets distracted or tired, will increase the safety of streets. The ability to move goods around in a highly coordinated fashion, utilizing vehicles during off-peak hours, will help cities move more fluidly. Autonomous ride-sharing services, combined with improvements cities are making such as designated drop-off and pick-up zones, and connected and optimized transportation systems will help reduce traffic congestion over time.

Argo AI safety management- Safety is the first priority

Safety is the company’s foundational value upon which all others are built. Everything the firm does, from development and testing to road operations and strategic planning revolves around the safety of their employees and the communities in which the firm operates. Its commitment to safety is championed by their leadership, which empowers Argo teams to define robust safety objectives, monitor progress, and promote a positive culture of safety. Employees are deeply and thoughtfully engaged in all stages of development, testing, and deployment. They are able to take any concerns and questions to their direct supervisors, other Argo managers, members of Executive Leadership team, or anyone on People Operations team. The firm also provides a confidential ethics reporting hotline to all employees, available 24/7.


The company’s Safety and Security Committee continuously evaluates data and existing controls to identify and implement areas of improvement. And across the company, its Risk Management team conducts scheduled and targeted audits, based on the results of comprehensive risk assessments conducted by its Compliance team. The firm promotes this culture through training, communications; a safety rewards program, and mandatory compliance with Argo’s Safety Management Plan. Safety is Argo AI’s core value; it’s their way of working each and every day.

Argo AI’s return to road guide outlines

The firm has been hard at work devising new policies and procedures to safely return their vehicles to the road amid the extraordinary challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. By resuming fleet operations in a gradual, measured way, the company will be able to continue the testing and development required for its engineering teams to build its self-driving system. The reason Argo exists is more important than ever. The sole purpose of the firm is to make getting around cities safe, easy, and enjoyable for all. The firm has been working closely with city and state officials to understand their guidance as the firm develops comprehensive plans to protect the health and safety of its employees and communities. Since every city is unique, especially in how they are impacted by the pandemic, Argo AI will begin to deploy fleets when mitigation plans align with local guidance, and even then, it will start small and ramp up efforts over time. The company will closely monitor effectiveness and make adjustments along the way to ensure that they are always in lockstep with best practices for public health.

Testing made simple

The right way, rooted in a culture of safety testing process especially in a self-driving car plays a very pivotal role. That means no shortcuts. Because when self-driving cars arrive, the only thing that matters is the trust and acceptance of the clients and customers. Therefore Argo AI considers testing process as their most crucial priority since day 1.

The Testing Process: While testing on public streets gets the bulk of attention, it’s just one part of the company’s process. On-road testing doesn’t begin in any city until one has completed rigorous development in the lab, via computer simulation, and on closed courses. A culture of safety means the testing process never ends, which is known as the Continuous Testing. One can’t build a self-driving system without first knowing how the individual parts work, so the first place Argo AI tests anything is in a lab. From the radar, camera, and sensors, to the computer hardware and software running on it, everything is individually tested, then tested as a system.

The firm strongly believes the best way to test a self-driving system on public roads is to put two highly trained people in the car who are known as Test Specialists because their job requires an entirely new skillset, combining the instincts of race car drivers with the meticulous patience of scientists. One Test Specialist sits behind the wheel, ready to take over anytime. The other Test Specialist monitors the software’s performance and advises of any situations that warrant their teammate taking control.

The mastermind behind the supremacy of Argo AI

Bryan Salesky is the Co-founder and also serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Argo AI. Mr. Bryan is passionate about incorporating promising robotics technology into products and systems that will improve safety and productivity while enhancing people’s lives. While at Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC), he managed a portfolio of the center’s largest commercial programs, including autonomous mining trucks for Caterpillar. In 2007, Mr. Bryan led software engineering for Tartan Racing, Carnegie Mellon’s winning entry in the DARPA Urban Challenge. He departed NREC and joined the Google self-driving car team in 2011 to continue the push toward making self-driving cars a reality. While at Google, he was responsible for the development and manufacture of their hardware portfolio, which included self-driving sensors, computers and several vehicle development programs. Mr. Bryan graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering in 2002.

“Inside Argo AI, values and ethics play a bigger role than any one of us. We hire for fit. We’re not only looking for competency and accountability, we’re also looking for value fit. That is our way, the Argo way.”