Argo AI, the Pittsburgh-based self-driving start-up funded by Ford Motor Company (F 2.33%) and Volkswagen AG (VWAGY 1.82%), announced that it has developed a new lidar sensor system with enough range to enable self-driving on highways.

Argo said that it believes its new lidar system's sensing range of 400 meters is the longest in the industry. It's enough, the company said, to assure that dark objects can be safely detected at highway speeds -- an important breakthrough that has so far eluded other developers. 

The technology also provides what Argo described as "ultra-high-resolution perception," meaning that it can quickly identify small objects that could be road hazards, even in complex urban settings. 

A white Ford Escape Hybrid with visible self-driving sensors, including a lidar unit on its roof.

Argo AI's new proprietary lidar sensors will allow safe self-driving on highways and in cities, the company said on Tuesday. Image source: Argo AI.

CEO Bryan Salesky said that the new lidar system takes Argo "to a whole new level of self-driving technology," enabling safe self-driving for delivery and ride-hailing services. 

The company is working closely with Ford and Volkswagen on a series of self-driving vehicles. Those include a commercial vehicle based on Ford's Escape Hybrid SUV that will be used in a delivery service that Ford expects to launch next year, and a self-driving VW taxi due in 2025.

Argo said that the system's development was enabled by its 2017 acquisition of lidar maker Princeton Lightwave, and specifically by former Princeton employees now working for Argo.