Argo AI has overcome the limitations preventing most competitors from commercializing autonomous delivery and ride-hail services. By detecting the most difficult-to-see objects from farther away and with more precision, the Argo Self-Driving System (SDS) is capable of 360-degrees awareness day or night and can safely drive on busy city streets, suburban neighborhoods, and now at highway speeds. These capabilities are essential for enabling services that will bring the promise of autonomous vehicles to life for millions of people.
The result is a sensor believed to be the industry’s longest-distance sensing range capability of 400 meters, with dark-object detection for safe highway driving. Argo Lidar also offers ultra-high resolution perception, providing the photorealistic imaging required to identify small objects for safe operation on complex city streets.
Ready to Scale
The Argo SDS capabilities, combined with the company’s fleet dispatch infrastructure and operations experience, translate into clear advantages when it comes to commercialization:
- Safe operations in cities, suburbs, and on highways enables connections from warehouses to urban and suburban routes for middle- and last-mile delivery, or service to the most in-demand ride-hailing routes to and from airports;
- Scaled operations based on extensive testing and development in six U.S. cities, with additional cities coming online this year, as well as expansion into Europe;
- Service experience, including address-to-address routing within urban and suburban areas of operation, maximizing effectiveness for deliveries or commuters.
Alongside custom-designed sensors and high-performance computing, Argo Lidar is the centerpiece of the Argo SDS. It is designed to handle the most complex aspects of human driving, such as:
- Seeing the darkest of black-painted vehicles—those that reflect less than 1% of light even at long range and in the pitch blackness of night
- Safely navigating left-hand turns onto roads with oncoming high-speed traffic by utilizing a 360° field of view
- Managing instant transitions from darkness to bright light, such as when entering and leaving a tunnel, which often temporarily blind human drivers
- Distinguishing small, moving objects such as animals from vegetation and static objects
The innovation behind Argo Lidar is known as “Geiger-mode” sensing. Argo AI’s proprietary Geiger-mode lidar has the ability to detect the smallest particle of light—a single photon—and is key to sensing objects with low reflectivity. This, combined with higher-wavelength operation above 1400 nanometers, gives Argo Lidar its unique capabilities, including longer-range, higher-resolution, lower-reflectivity detection and full 360° field of view—all from a single sensor.
The Argo AI Hardware Development team is working with a highly experienced contract manufacturer for series production of the new lidar sensor. The first batch of Argo Lidar sensors is already supporting on-road testing of Argo’s self-driving test vehicle fleet. Soon, volume production plans with Ford and Volkswagen Group will lead to the widespread commercialization of autonomous delivery and ride hail services.