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Photo: Ford Inc.

Ford has acquired a majority stake for $1billion in Argo AI, a new startup focused on artificial intelligence software self-driving cars, the company said on Friday.

The details: Argo was founded by Brian Salesky, previously the head of hardware at Alphabet's self-driving car unit, and Peter Rander, who previously worked at Uber's self-driving car division. Both spent time at Carnegie Mellon's robotics institute. The company will remain headquartered in Pittsburgh, with operations in the Bay Area and Michigan.

Ford will deploy the $1 billion over the next five years, and will elect two of the five seats on Argo's board. Argo will operate largely independently from Ford, and plans to have 200 employees by the end of the year.

Industry snapshot: This is only the latest big investment in autonomous driving. Last year, General Motors acquired self-driving car startup Cruise for close to $1 billion and invested $500 million in Lyft with the goal of working together on autonomous driving. Meanwhile, Uber acquired self-driving truck company Otto (also founded by former Alphabet employees) for $680 million, and other automakers have also poured considerable resources into autonomous driving tech.

Ambitious: Ford says it plans to have fully autonomous cars by 2021, in line with most other automakers' predictions. With that said, that may not mean that all the cars on the road will be self-driving by then. Changes in regulations, infrastructure and even culture will be needed before we reach that point.

Go deeper

Democrats' hypocrisy moment

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be facing explicit calls to resign from President Biden on down, if you apply the standard that Democrats set for similar allegations against Republicans. And it's not a close call.

Why it matters: The #MeToo moment saw men in power run out of town for exploiting young women. Democrats led the charge. So the silence of so many of them seems more strange — and unacceptable by their own standards — by the hour.

Police officers' immunity from lawsuits is getting a fresh look

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nearly a year after the death of George Floyd, advocates of changes in police practices are launching new moves to limit or eliminate legal liability protections for officers accused of excessive force.

Why it matters: Revising or eliminating qualified immunity — the shield police officers have now — could force officers accused of excessive force to personally face civil penalties in addition to their departments. But such a change could intensify a nationwide police officer shortage, critics say. 

The U.S. coronavirus vaccines aren't all the same

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The U.S. now has three COVID-19 vaccines, and public health officials are quick — and careful — to say there’s no bad option. But their effectiveness, manufacturing and distribution vary.

Why it matters: Any of the authorized vaccines are much better than no vaccine, especially for people at high risk of severe coronavirus infections. But their differences may fuel perceptions of inequity, and raise legitimate questions about the best way to use each one.

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