Reuters via The Daily Mail
Alphabet Inc‘s self-driving car unit Waymo is expanding winter testing as it works to address a potential blind spot for autonomous vehicles: snowy and icy conditions.
Waymo said Thursday that Michigan is the sixth state where the self-driving car project will test autonomous vehicles.
The company chose the state to see how vehicles will respond in snow, sleet, and ice.
Waymo has been testing vehicles in Texas, Arizona, Washington State, Nevada and California and starts in Michigan next week on public roads with a backup safety driver sitting in the driver seat if necessary.
‘For human drivers, the mix of winter conditions affects how well you can see and the way your vehicle handles the road.
The same is true for self-driving cars,’ said Waymo chief executive John Krafcik in a blog post.
‘Our ultimate goal is for our fully self-driving cars to operate safely and smoothly in all kinds of environments.’
Waymo said it has conducted cold weather testing since 2012, including some around the Nevada and California border of Lake Tahoe, but the new testing in Metro Detroit may pose tougher challenges navigating snow slicked or icy roads crowded with commuters.
The new winter testing is in the back yard of Detroit’s Big Three automakers. U.S. automakers have touted plans to get self-driving cars on the roads.
WAYMO’S NEW CAMPAIGN FOR DRIVERLESS CAR SAFETY
Alphabet Inc’s self-driving car unit Waymo and several groups are launching a campaign aimed at convincing skeptical Americans of what they say is the value and safety of driverless cars, as Congress considers how it will regulate the technology.
The company said that it was teaming up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Safety Council, and the Federation for Blind Children in a campaign called ‘Let’s Talk Self-Driving.’
The campaign says that self-driving cars could help eliminate most alcohol-related crash deaths and allow the blind broader access to personal transportation.
Waymo, which began as the Google self-driving car project, said the campaign will begin on Monday in Arizona, where the company is testing self-driving cars.
It is set to include digital ads, outdoor billboards, fuel pump advertising and radio spots.
The company declined to say how much the advertising campaign will cost.
Waymo has been mapping areas in Metro Detroit and wants to assess how its sensors perform in wet, cold conditions.
One hurdle is self-driving car mapping software may have challenges in winter weather.
One challenge for Waymo may be human drivers.
Many self-driving vehicles from numerous companies have been struck by inattentive or careless drivers in California, according to reports to filed with the state.