01 August, 2019

Ford builds its autonomous holdings with two new acquisitions

Ford has acquired two companies as it looks to bolster its autonomous driving development programmes.

The carmaker has bought Journey Holding, a transportation systems software provider, and Quantum Signal AI, a 20-year-old business that has worked on the cutting edge of mobile robotics for numerous clients, including the military.

Full integration

Journey Holding will integrate its offerings with Ford Smart Mobility’s TransLoc, a provider of technology solutions for on-demand and fixed-route systems for public and private transit operations. Journey Holding CEO Justin Rees will lead the new operation.

‘The combination of these transit technology companies will accelerate our efforts to help cities deliver more seamless, productive, and accessible transportation solutions to their citizens and visitors,’ said Brett Wheatley, vice president Ford Mobility Marketing and Growth. ‘It also will be key to connecting customers with the other mobility solutions in our portfolio, such as Spin e-scooters and our GoRide Health service.’

Together, the new group serves nearly 1,200 cities, universities, corporate campuses and other enterprises with software solutions for fixed-route transportation, micro-transit on-demand transportation and other related areas.

Silent business

Although not widely known to the public, Quantum Signal helped the US military develop software that allowed it to remotely control robotic vehicles from thousands of miles away. It even built a robust simulation environment capable of testing autonomous vehicle designs that is still in use today.

While Quantum Signal has operated in relative obscurity over the past couple of decades, its work has been noticed by Ford over the past few years. Its purchase of the business will allow the carmaker to further advance its goal of launching a self-driving vehicle business.

The manufacturer will make use of its new acquisition’s extensive experience in real-time simulation and algorithm development as well as robotics, sensing and perception technology. The wide range of the group’s work portfolio means it will be able to support Ford in numerous areas as the company develops self-driving vehicles and transportation as a service business, including software development and hardware prototyping.

Ford is believed to be one of the more advanced carmakers when it comes to autonomous driving systems. It also owns Argo AI, a technology platform company developing autonomous systems. Ford recently announced a collaboration on the technology with Volkswagen, which will invest in Argo AI as part of the deal. Ford is also planning to develop its own autonomous car-sharing service, aiming to launch it in 2021 to transport both people and goods in cities around the globe.