Volvo CEO Jim Rowan said the shutdown of Argo AI, the autonomous vehicle technology company backed by Ford and Volkswagen Group, solidified his automaker's approach to turning cars that can drive themselves into reality.
"We don't have these massive, sprawling AI (artificial intelligence) teams," he said. "Our teams are focused on what we think it adds value to the car, specifically around the safety stack and perception."
Ford CEO Jim Farley said when announcing the automaker's exit from Argo AI that profitable, fully autonomous vehicles "at scale are a long way off and we won’t necessarily have to create that technology ourselves."
Rowan agrees, and the strategy has been exemplified by Volvo's latest model, the EX90, which Volvo said is hardware-ready for unsupervised autonomous driving. Volvo said in January it would make the feature available first to customers in the U.S. state of California before rolling it out in other markets.
"We have said we were going to partner up with Nvidia on the silicon side for core compute technology and Qualcomm on the infotainment side," he said. "At the same time, we buy in the sensor set, meaning lidar, radars, cameras and so on. Then we write the software and the perception stack that connects the silicon to the hardware. That's our secret sauce."
Rowan said this strategy helps Volvo move faster and stay remain financially nimble.
"I think our strategy is pretty solid in terms of AI software and core compute technology," he said.
"And we will expand those teams, but when we do it in line with the strategy of really focusing on what adds value."