One of the concerns of the technology of autonomous cars is that their sensors do not work well with the winter weather. Waymo, unit of Google’s parent, Alphabet, seeks to correct that.
Waymo— previously the Google self-driving car project – has announced it will start testing its autonomous vehicles in Michigan, because winter conditions there allow for a variety of tests that cannot be performed at its usual testing area in California.
John Krafcik, Waymo’s chief executive, said in a blog post that Michigan will allow them to test the Chrysler Pacifica autonomous vans fleet in snow, hail and ice.
He said this will allow for their sensors to be tested in cold and wet conditions, as well as helping to improve the advanced driving techniques already tested over 8 years to see how the vehicle slips or skids on frozen, snow-covered roads.
Autonomous cars use sensors to learn and maneuver on roads. But when snow falls or the street are covered in ice, the sensors have a more difficult time.
At this new phase of testing at its facilities in Novi, Michigan, Waymo will endeavor to make the vehicle sensors self-sufficient so the car doesn’t require human intervention in winter conditions as it does up to now.