Running our autonomous vehicle program as a start-up is giving us the speed we need to continue to stay at the forefront of development of these technologies and the market applications,” she said.
The move comes as traditional automakers are rushing to partner with and acquire technology companies amid a global race to develop cars capable of driving themselves safely with little input from passengers.
In February, Ford Motor said it planned to invest $1 billion over the next five years in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence company, as part of its own push to develop self-driving cars. Ford has also vowed to begin production of a fully automated car — with no steering wheel and no pedals — by 2021. Similar efforts are underway at Audi, BMW and other car companies.
The automotive giants are competing with technology companies that appear to be leading the self-driving race. Google’s automated car subsidiary, Waymo, has racked up more than 200 million miles of driving with various test vehicles, while Tesla already offers its semi-automated Autopilot system in its electric vehicles.