Ford has established Latitude AI, a wholly-owned subsidiary focused on developing a hands-free, eyes-off-the-road automated driving system for millions of vehicles.

With the formation of Latitude, Ford says it is adding a team of machine learning, robotics, software, sensors, systems engineering and operations talent as the automaker grows and expands its development efforts in automated driving technology. This includes advancements in Ford BlueCruise, which already has accumulated more than 50 million miles of hands-free driving.

“We see automated driving technology as an opportunity to redefine the relationship between people and their vehicles,” said Doug Field, chief advanced product development and technology officer, Ford Motor Company. “Customers using BlueCruise are already experiencing the benefits of hands-off driving. The deep experience and talent in our Latitude team will help us accelerate the development of all-new automated driving technology – with the goal of not only making travel safer, less stressful and more enjoyable, but ultimately over time giving our customers some of their day back.”

Establishing Latitude supports Ford’s strategic shift last year to focus on automated driving technologies for personally owned vehicles. Ford hired about 550 employees formerly of Argo AI (a disbanded start-up that included Ford and VW as major investors) across machine learning and robotics, cloud platforms, mapping, sensors and compute systems, test operations, systems and safety engineering. The Latitude team has applied much of their experience in automated driving, including software development tools and infrastructure, in the pivot to work on advanced driver assist systems (ADAS).

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Sammy Omari, executive director, ADAS Technologies at Ford, also will serve as the CEO of Latitude. Peter Carr is appointed chief technology officer, overseeing Latitude’s product and technical development, and David Gollob is named president, with responsibility for business operations.

“We believe automated driving technology will help improve safety while unlocking all-new customer experiences that reduce stress and in the future will help free up a driver’s time to focus on what they choose,” said Omari. “The expertise of the Latitude team will further complement and enhance Ford’s in-house global ADAS team in developing future driver assist technologies, ultimately delivering on the many benefits of automation.”

Latitude is headquartered in Pittsburgh with additional engineering hubs in Dearborn, Mich. and Palo Alto, Calif. The company also will operate a highway-speed test track facility in Greenville, S.C.