The Argo.ai Headline That Got Buried

The Gartner Hype curve is French for the starting point. Stages are triggering technology, the peak of inflated expectations, the path of misunderstanding, the slope of enlightenment, And the plateau of productivity. Where do AV’s stand in this framework?

It depends on who you are talking to and which lens they are using.

Recently, the gruesome term “path of unhappiness” is being thrown around Willy-nilly in the AV space. Trigger? Closing Argo.ai. The same journalist who rallied on the positive propaganda about self-driving a few years ago is now continuing its death. And they took reality to a whole new level.

Noise to signal ratio

There was no shouting from the roof. The most disgusting article relies on Anthony’s “Where Self-Driving Cars Go” Levandowski and George “AV’s is a scam” Hotz. Both were significant figures in the early years of commercial vehicle development, pioneering the idea of ​​”moving fast and breaking things”. There are now thousands of people deeply rooted in this space with in-depth knowledge of what is happening in the AV world today. I was surprised that the major publications quoted these two gentlemen as if they were a powerful “voice”. They are entitled to an opinion, but perhaps because of their popularity they are heavily quoted from the original text as if it were sensei.

As another example of negative media claims based on thin evidence, Crunchbase News published an article entitled “The Road to Breaking” that analyzed six AV startups based on Crunchbase data. Two examples are from years ago when there was a huge difference in potential to play. These are irrelevant now. One of the examples is about the deployment of trucks, which is the only use case that prospects can not use to comment on the industry as a whole. Only three are contemporary and all are focused on freight.

One of the three, TuSimple, is in all its categories in terms of self-ignition, not related to market forces.

The only valid examples used by texts to the world today – at least on the car side – are Aurora and Kodiak. Both companies are dealing with uncertainties and funding challenges, though their executives are refusing their premature claims of death. The jury came out on them and we will see what happens. Simply put, the question raised about these two companies cannot be legally used to generate the entire AV space.

The third part of the “AV Reality Check” will focus on shipping. I will have more to say on this topic.

Re-framing: A little detail from the Argo story that changes everything.

The coverage of the Argo closure emphasized the cessation of development and testing of self-driving fleets in their cities. Argo aims to get into the same game as Cruise and Waymo, which is higher order, and they start out slower.

Owners of Argo, Ford and Volkswagen, based on their investments in 2017 and 2020, respectively, switched devices to leverage the vast knowledge developed by Argo to turn to Advanced Driver Assistance (ADAS). There is nothing new there; Most of the leading high-tech car companies have gone from fully automatic driving for personal cars in recent years. SAE Level 3 capability, which allows the driver to hand over the entire vehicle while remaining in control when requested, was introduced by Honda and Mercedes in 2021, followed by BMW and Volvo Cars this year. . By pulling a lot of Argo skills inside, Ford and VW have returned to their traditional markets and increased their ADAS competitiveness.

In his November article, “Keep Calm … and Ride On: AV Technology is Hard But It’s Here to Stay,” John Bozzella, CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, called the media’s overreaction. “farcical.” Based on his review of the AV landscape “the picture is positive”.

He offers insightful ideas that could come from the veteran automotive industry, noting that the Argo move is “a change in capital expenditure and not noticeable in dragging on long-term business and disruptive technology.” “Especially those who may sink or swim according to government rules.”

So what is the most important information about Argo? Earlier this year, in talks with Ford and VW, Amazon was ready to invest “hundreds of millions of dollars” in Argo, as reported by Bloomberg. Amazon wants to use Argo’s self-driving chopsticks to automate their massive electric car, now distributed by Rivian. The deal came to a head as VW dominated the management share with Amazon.

Wait a minute! Let’s see if I am here or not? Argo has a plaintiff at the door with large wallets and (apparently) high confidence in Argo technology. The potential of the organization, not money, undermined the agreement. So while researchers are claiming that the end of AV’s is imminent, one of the largest corporations in the world, a leader in AV development and deployment, is rarely going with their AV footprint. More.

Clearly, the general headline about Argo’s fate and state of development AV should really be “Amazon aims to invest hundreds of millions in the automation of its massive electric cars.

Do!

Since the Amazon was blocked by the Germans (probably for good reason), is it likely that they returned home with a tail between their legs and just abandoned? No.

Instead, I’m sure some interesting discussions are going well between Amazon and other AV developers who could support city driving for their Rivian cars. And Amazon, like other major players betting on AV, needless to say.

Leave your flour to dry, naysayers. There is no guarantee that AV will be successful. But as developers, clients and investors continue to work quietly towards the desired results, keep your lights on until you really have some substance to work with.

Disclosure: I am a consultant for Gatik, Plus and RRAI.

Look at this place! The second part of the series will focus on autonomous vehicles and the third part will focus on autonomous trucks.

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