The Fuse

This Week in AVs: Ford to Build AV Factory in Michigan; Optimus Ride Deploys AV Shuttles; and More

by Kristen Hernandez | March 29, 2019

Optimus Ride brings self-driving cars to private communities in NY and CA
MIT spinoff Optimus Ride announced late last week that it would be deploying its autonomous shuttles in two private developments in New York and California. In the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the company will operate their shuttles on a loop within a geofenced area. This will be the first commercial deployment of AV technology in New York State. Meanwhile, residents and prospective residents of Paradise Valley Estates in California will be provided with tours of the gated development or transportation within the community. Early deployments such as this, with their operations constrained to geofenced areas and limited speeds, make operations much simpler and provide an opportunity to build familiarity with the technology among residents.

Though Ford has yet to announce where the center will be built or the size of its workforce, the entire investment is expected to create up to 900 new jobs by 2023.

Ford to build new factory in Michigan for autonomous vehicles
Ford announced last week a Michigan-based autonomous vehicle factory set to open in the next two years. The facility, which is part of a previously-announced $900 million investment, will incorporate self-driving technology into hybrid vehicles. Though Ford has yet to announce where the center will be built or the size of its workforce, the entire investment is expected to create up to 900 new jobs by 2023. This announcement highlights the economic boom that autonomous vehicles could create. While there has been concern surrounding potential job losses from self-driving cars, factories such as this are just one way that autonomous vehicles could actually create jobs for hundreds of Americans.

Innoviz, Ouster raise millions for self-driving lidar sensors
Two startups that develop lidar sensors for autonomous vehicles announced significant funding rounds this week. Innoviz Technologies, an Israeli startup, and Ouster, based out of San Francisco, raised $132 million and $60 million, respectively. The companies are competing with numerous other lidar startups to supply autonomous vehicle developers with sensors, with Innoviz already having a partnership with BMW. These fundraising rounds are the most recent in a string of significant investments in the lidar industry, with over $1 billion being invested over the past three years. These investments emphasize the fast growth and intense competition in the industry, as only a few of these startups are expected to emerge as major players. shifts focus of self-driving service to Arlington, Texas
California-based startup will be pulling its self-driving shuttles out of Frisco, Texas in order to concentrate its efforts in Arlington. The company cited the upcoming end of its contract with Frisco and slow business over the duration of its time in the city as reasons for the shift. With their enhanced presence in Arlington,’s autonomous vehicles will shuttle passengers between a number of points of interest, including the Dallas Cowboys stadium and the University of Texas at Arlington. The shuttles will operate in the city through at least October 2019 and will initially have safety drivers, though the company has tentative plans to remove these drivers by the end of 2021.’s shift in focus from Frisco to Arlington shows how early deployments can help companies to refine their business models.