self-driving vehicle research center Argo AI Carnegie Mellon

Image: Argo AI

June 24, 2019      
Carnegie Mellon University

PITTSBURGH – Carnegie Mellon University and Argo AI today announced a five-year, $15 million sponsored research partnership, under which the self-driving technology company will fund research into advanced perception and next-generation decision-making algorithms for autonomous vehicles.

Argo AI and Carnegie Mellon will establish the Carnegie Mellon University Argo AI Center for Autonomous Vehicle Research, which will pursue advanced research projects to help overcome hurdles to enabling self-driving vehicles to operate in a wide variety of real-world conditions, such as winter weather or construction zones.

Farnam Jahanian

Farnam Jahanian, CMU President

“We are thrilled to deepen our partnership with Argo AI to shape the future of self-driving technologies,” said CMU President Farnam Jahanian. “This investment allows our researchers to continue to lead at the nexus of technology and society, and to solve society’s most pressing problems. Together, Argo AI and CMU will accelerate critical research in autonomous vehicles while building on the momentum of CMU’s culture of innovation.”

Carnegie Mellon has been developing autonomous driving technology for more than 30 years, and the university’s expertise and graduates have attracted a number of self-driving car companies to Pittsburgh. Argo AI was founded in 2016 by a team of CMU alumni and experts from across the industry.

“Argo AI, Pittsburgh and the entire autonomous vehicle industry have benefited from Carnegie Mellon’s leadership. It’s an honor to support development of the next-generation of leaders and help unlock the full potential of autonomous vehicle technology,” said Bryan Salesky, CEO and co-founder of Argo AI. “CMU and now Argo AI are two big reasons why Pittsburgh will remain the center of the universe for self-driving technology.”

In addition to Argo AI, CMU performs related research supported by General Motors, Uber and other transportation companies.

“Carnegie Mellon has always been at the leading edge of fundamental research on self-driving cars, and this new agreement with Argo AI will help us continue to expand the frontiers of these important technologies,” said J. Michael McQuade, CMU’s vice president of research. “With Argo’s support, our faculty and particularly our students will be better prepared to tackle the next wave of technical challenges facing autonomous vehicles.”

Deva Ramanan

Deva Ramanan

Deva Ramanan, an associate professor in the Robotics Institute who also serves as machine learning lead at Argo AI, will be the center’s principal investigator. The center’s research will involve faculty members and students from across CMU. The center will give students access to the fleet-scale data sets, vehicles and large-scale infrastructure that are crucial for advancing self-driving technologies and that otherwise would be difficult to obtain.

The center’s research will address a number of technical topics, including smart sensor fusion, 3D scene understanding, urban scene simulation, map-based perception, imitation and reinforcement learning, behavioral prediction and robust validation of software. Research findings will be reported in open scientific literature for use by the entire field.

“This partnership between Carnegie Mellon and Argo AI, two of the major players in autonomous driving technology, is welcome news for all of Pittsburgh,” said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto. “Self-driving cars represent a growing industry and we want to continue to develop and attract the technical talent that will drive it forward.”

Martial Hebert, director of the CMU Robotics Institute, said that through the partnership, Argo is setting the standard for how to support university efforts in a time when the competition for technical talent is fierce.

“Argo AI is enabling the university to do what it does best by providing our students and faculty with access to data, infrastructure and real-world problems on a large scale,” Hebert said. “In the process, we will train graduates who will be the top talent for Argo AI and the rest of the industry.”