On Tuesday, self-driving startup Argo AI said it was driving driverless vehicles on roads in Miami, Florida and Austin, Texas, noting that commercial applications would follow after an indefinite period.
Argo, backed by Ford Motor Co and Volkswagen AG, has tested its robotics on public roads in both cities for several years, but previously included safety drivers behind the wheel.
Argo AI CEO Brian Selsky said in a statement: “Argo is the first American to become driverless in two major cities, safely operating in the busiest areas between heavy traffic, pedestrians and cyclists.”
The company allows ride-hale, delivery and logistics companies to integrate their driverless vehicles into their operations.
A spokesman for Argo AI said the ride-haul service was piloting the program by integrating Lyft Inc and retail-chain Walmart Inc technology.
“Our driverless activities primarily focus on managing employee rides using our internally advanced ride hauling test app,” the spokesman said. “We will integrate driverless commercial activities in a timely manner.”
Lyft, which sold its own self-driving technology unit a year ago, partnered with Argo AI and Ford in July. The Ride-Hell company says it will focus on “generating maximum revenue” from robotics by providing routing, customer interfaces and fleet management services.
Walmart said in September that it has partnered with Argo AI and Ford to launch an autonomous vehicle delivery service in Miami, Austin and Washington, DC.
Self-driving companies have repeatedly pushed timelines to scale for truly driverless trips, with only a limited number of fully autonomous programs available across the United States.
While human drivers make up approximately 80% of the cost per mile on traditional ride-hail services, self-driving companies also need to recover billions of dollars in development costs, and determine how to economically scale, manage and maintain a fleet of vehicles. .