SoftBank backs new autonomous trucking startup from founders of defunct Argo AI

(Reuters) – Founders behind defunct self-driving startup backed by Ford and Volkswagen launched a new autonomous trucking firm, Stack AV, on Thursday with investment from Japan’s SoftBank Group.

SoftBank declined to disclose its investment, but a Bloomberg News report said it will provide more than $1 billion, citing an economic development official in Pittsburgh where the startup will be based.

The city was also home to defunct Argo AI, which was founded in 2016 by Bryan Salesky, Peter Rander and Brett Browning. It was shuttered last year over concerns by Ford executives that profitable, fully autonomous vehicles were still some ways into the future.

Stack AV, which has total of 150 employees, marks another opportunity for the Argo AI founders to work on self-driving technology, which remains far away from mass deployment despite billions of dollars in investment.

“With our proprietary technology and expertise as well as the commitment from our long-term partner in SoftBank, we are confident we will revolutionize the trucking and freight industries,” said Salesky, CEO of Stack AV.

Salesky got his start developing automated vehicles for a Defense Department sponsored competition 16 years ago and has served as director of self-driving cars development at Google.

Rander, who has led teams that worked on Uber’s self-driving prototypes, will be the president of the startup, while Browning will be the chief technology officer.

(Reporting by Jaspreet Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)