Argo AI is collaborating with Ford to work directly with cities as they get ready to launch services enabled by self-driving vehicles. The two companies say they are engaging local leaders to discover how they can best meet the needs of each city and develop self-driving cars that work for the residents.

Argo AI and Ford recently invited Rochester Hills, MI, Mayor Bryan Barnett to Detroit for a ride in one of their self-driving test vehicles. Mayor Barnett is also the new president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

As Mayor Barnett rode through Detroit, he commented on the experience and what self-driving technology could mean for cities throughout the U.S. He noted the action the car took when a truck unexpectedly cut them off and the car slowed down to let the car pass, and said that such instances reveal the amount of technology and preparation that goes into helping the car operate safely.

The mayor stressed the importance for self-driving car companies to remain in conversations with cities and to visit the communities to see how they are different. In this way, mayors and local officials can provide important information about how self-driving vehicles can be developed to meet the different needs of the residents. He emphasized that working together will increase the success of the technology for everyone, as well as the speed at which it is accepted and embraced.

Mayor Barnett commented that people in the city, when they talk about self-driving cars, note that advantages will include the ability to be more productive during their workday commute, as well as being able to relax and use their cell phone without being concerned with driving. He said that those are valuable benefits, but that, at a higher level, self-driving cars will expand mobility and extend the quality of life for people who cannot drive safely by themselves, such as elderly or disabled people.

Mayor Barnett remarked that although many questions remain to be answered about the major disruptor of self-driving technology, “If companies like Ford and Argo AI continue to work with cities to figure out how to launch this technology, we can manage this transition just as our forefathers managed to move on from horse-drawn carriages.”