Waymo’s self-driving cars will soon begin testing on Michigan roads to take advantage of the state’s challenging winter driving conditions, Waymo CEO John Krafcik revealed in a blog.
Winter precipitation — from powdery dust to slanted sleet — can pose special challenges for autonomous vehicles. Waymo has been operating cold-weather testing since 2012.
“Building on the snowy work we’ve done to date, we’ll be giving our vehicles even more practice driving in snow, sleet and ice,” Krafcik wrote. “This type of testing will give us the opportunity to assess the way our sensors perform in wet, cold conditions. And it will also build on the advanced driving skills we’ve developed over the last eight years by teaching our cars how to handle things like skidding on icy, unplowed roads.”
Waymo isn’t new to Michigan. The company, which was previously known as Google’s self-driving car project, opened a self-driving technology development center in Novi, Mich., in May 2016. Alphabet Inc. is parent company to both Waymo and Google.
“With a facility close by and roots planted in Michigan, we’ll be able to easily test our self-driving cars in the Greater Detroit area to further improve our technology,” Krafcik wrote.
Krafcik is also quite familiar with Michigan winters, having lived through 14 of them, he noted.