Self-driving cars face icy conditions in Michigan tests

With winter soon to descend on Michigan, Waymo has set out plans to test its self-driving cars on the state’s snow-covered roads.

The company has previously trained its self-driving vehicles in snowy conditions in Lake Tahoe. Now, it will give its fleet more practice driving in snow, sleet and ice – conditions seen as posing a particular challenge for the sensors used in autonomous vehicles.

Waymo said that the testing would give it the opportunity to assess the way its sensors perform in wet and cold conditions, as well as teaching its vehicles how to handle situations such as skidding on icy roads.

“For human drivers, the mix of winter conditions can affect how well you can see, and the way your vehicle handles the road,” said Waymo CEO John Krafcik in a blog post.

“The same is true for self-driving cars. At Waymo, our ultimate goal is for our fully self-driving cars to operate safely and smoothly in all kinds of environments.”

The company already has close ties to the state, which is home to Waymo’s self-driving technology development centre.