Autonomous vehicle technology company Argo AI has laid off about 150 workers, multiple news outlets have reported. Alan Hall, spokesperson for the company, confirmed the action in an emailed statement: "With incredible growth and progress made in our mission to deploy driverless vehicles, we are making prudent adjustments to our business plan to best continue on a path for success.”
According to Argo AI’s website, the company employs more than 1,700 people. Ford and Volkswagen are majority shareholders holding equal stakes in the company. The company focuses on level 4 self-driving technology for ride-hail and commercial delivery vehicles, according to Andrew Woelfling, senior director of public policy and government relations at Argo AI, in a previous interview.
TechCrunch reported that the layoffs included staff members from operations, digital media and communications teams as well as recruiters.
In May, Argo AI began driverless vehicle projects in Austin, Texas, and Miami. But autonomous vehicle technology has come under sharp criticism, as recently released data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that cars using self-driving technology were involved in 367 crashes over the course of more than 10 months, with six fatalities.
Joan Claybrook, former administrator at NHTSA, said in a June 15 statement following the NHTSA report that “data regarding the performance and mishaps of cars already equipped with advanced technologies as well as data regarding autonomous vehicles is troubling.”
Drivers are not convinced they want automated technologies, according to a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety published in June. It concluded, in part, that “Consumers are interested in partial driving automation, but there is resistance to more sophisticated functionality.”