Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) 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.
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