SoftBank backs Stack AV, a new autonomous trucking startup founded by former Argo AI founders

They’re back! Bryan Salesky, Peter Rander, and Brett Browning, the founders and the brains behind the now-shuttered Ford and VW-backed autonomous vehicle startup Argo AI, have just made a triumphant return. Their latest venture, Stack AV, is setting its sights on revolutionizing the world of self-driving trucks, ushering in a transportation industry revolution, and bringing autonomous commercial transportation to the forefront.

Unlike their previous self-driving startup, which secured a total funding of $1 billion, the word is that SoftBank is planning to back Stack AV with an initial investment exceeding $1 billion, surpassing the previous funding milestone set by their former startup

“The founders of the former self-driving unit of Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG are launching a new autonomous trucking startup with backing said to be more than $1 billion from Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp,” Bloomberg wrote.

Meanwhile, it’s worth mentioning that the investment is being made by SoftBank Group, distinct from the SoftBank Vision Fund which has previously backed various autonomous vehicle companies such as Aurora, Cruise, Didi Autonomous, Nuro, and Robotic Research. In fact, in 2022, GM acquired SoftBank Vision Fund’s share in Cruise for a substantial $2.1 billion.

Stack AV, headquartered in Pittsburgh, which was also the base for Argo, will be under the leadership of the trio, the same team that once spearheaded Argo AI, the self-driving project that Ford and VW discontinued last year. Salesky told Bloomberg in an interview that their new startup has already assembled a team of 150 experts and has an active fleet of test trucks out on the roads.

“As consumer consumption patterns evolve, businesses increasingly need AI-driven, intelligent, and reliable supply chains,” said Bryan Salesky, Founder and CEO of Stack AV. “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 by driving improvements in efficiency and safety and alleviating supply chain constraints for our customers, helping them reach their goals and advance their missions.”

Peter Rander, President of Stack AV said, “We could not be more thrilled to unveil our autonomous trucking business to the world. As global commerce continues to become increasingly interconnected, now more than ever businesses have a dire need for more reliable and efficient supply chains, especially in the trucking and freight industries. Leveraging our advanced AI-powered autonomous driving systems, we will improve supply chains for our customers and optimize transportation routes and energy efficiency.”

The launch of Stack AV, with massive funding support, marks a remarkable comeback for the former founders of Argo AI. Just under a year ago, we wrote about Argo AI when the Ford-backed self-driving startup shut down after raising $1 billion in funding. This abrupt closure came as a surprise to many, as Argo had been widely regarded as a frontrunner in the autonomous vehicle industry.

Then a week after the shutdown, Argo AI also laid off 78 employees in Austin. Ford and Volkswagen said at the time that the affected Argo employees would be offered positions with the automakers. At its peak, Argo AI had more than 1,400 people across major U.S. cities.

Argo AI first burst on the scene in 2017 after raising over $1 billion in funding. It was founded in 2016 by Bryan Salesky and Peter Rander. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Argo AI was an autonomous vehicle technology platform that was developing self-driving technology aimed at automating long-haul trucking.