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Ford acquires defense contractor Quantum Signal to boost self-driving cars

Quantum Signal's work in simulation and robotics will be a perfect fit for commercial AV work.

Whether it's algorithms or control systems, Quantum Signal has the experience that Ford thinks will greatly benefit its AV development.

The public might be unaware of many of 'em, but there are plenty of low-key companies out there developing advanced technology for all sorts of uses. With the hustle to develop autonomous vehicles, automakers are scooping up these smaller companies left and right to make use of their skills. Ford's latest acquisition is along those lines.

Ford announced on Tuesday that it has acquired Quantum Signal. Based in Saline, Michigan since its founding in 1999, this company has focused on developing software and robotics for a wide variety of clients, including some in the military. In a Medium post announcing the acquisition, Ford says it's had its eye on Quantum Signal for some time, even though most of us probably have no idea who they are.

As you might expect, Ford intends to leverage Quantum Signal's strengths for future autonomous vehicle development. Specifically, it'll rely on the company's "extensive experience in real-time simulation and algorithm development" for use in Ford's future autonomous commercial service platform.

Quantum Signal's work has also involved autonomy in the past, although not specifically geared towards automobiles. Its modeling and simulation platform have seen use in military robotics development, focusing on both autonomy and remote operation. Ford believes these efforts can make for even better AV simulations as it continues to focus on deploying its technology for the public.

It's likely that Quantum Signal will work closely with Argo AI, Ford's primary AV subsidiary. And, like Argo, it's likely that Ford will continue to let Quantum Signal operate as a separate entity. With a recently announced $2.6 billion investment from Volkswagen, along with all these other acquisitions, Ford's Argo AI should become quite the formidable entity in autonomous-vehicle development in the coming years.

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