Waymo is Headed to Florida to See How its Self-Driving Vehicles Perform in the Rain
【Summary】The sunny and tropical weather that Florida is famous for also brings with it heavy rain and thunderstorms, especially in the summer. For Alphabet subsidiary Waymo, Florida in the summer is the perfect place to test how its self-driving vehicles perform in the rain.
The sunny and tropical weather that Florida is famous for also brings with it heavy rain and thunderstorms, especially in the summer. During the summer months of hurricane season, Miami is one of the most rain-soaked cities in the U.S., averaging an 62 inches of rain and some of the most intense weather conditions in the country.
For Waymo, Florida in the summer is the perfect place to test how its self-driving vehicles perform in heavy rain.
Waymo announced today in a blog post that it is bringing its self-driving vehicles to Miami later this month to evaluate how lidar, radar and cameras deal with Florida's heavy rains. The company will begin testing on a closed course in Naples.
Afterwards, Waymo said its moving its fleet to public roads in Miami, where they will be manually operated by test drivers collecting data of real-world driving situations in heavy rain. Waymo said its bringing a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans and a Jaguar I-Pace to Florida.
For Waymo, who's top priority is safety, the testing will be invaluable, as autonomous vehicles will be required to perform just as well as humans in all weather conditions, including at night, in freezing weather and during periods of snow or heavy rain.
Waymo said that rain can create a lot of noise for its vehicle sensors, but it will also test the robustness of its deep-learning algorithms and how Waymo's vehicles behave around pedestrians.
Waymo's self-driving vehicles utilize AI-powered deep learning neural nets to predict the intended path of pedestrians and other road users. However, in a sudden rainstorm, pedestrians or bicyclists may suddenly behave erratically, like darting across a busy street and running to find shelter, crossing an intersection before the light turns green, or walking faster that normal to try and stay dry. They also might pull out bulky umbrellas in a variety of colors, which may affect how Waymo's self-driving perception system "sees" them.
The self-driving vehicle software and AI needs to be able to respond to this type of unpredictable pedestrian behavior like a human driver would, but it also needs to be scalable for the commercial rollout of Waymo's autonomous ride-hailing service Waymo One.
The Waymo One pilot is already underway in Arizona, picking up passengers who summon a ride in one of the company's self-driving minivans using the Waymo One app.
Waymo said that Florida residents will start seeing the self-driving vehicles on highways between Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers and Miami as it learns about Florida roads. Miami's mayor is welcoming to Waymo's presence in the sunshine state.
"Waymo's decision to choose Miami as a testing platform for its cutting-edge technology speaks to our city's position as a dynamic hub for innovation," said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. "As a Smart City, we are constantly working to modernize how we move and travel. Waymo's work uniquely aligns with Miami's mission to embrace technology to solve problems and improve lives, while prioritizing safety and efficiency."
In addition to Florida, over the past several years Waymo has been testing its self-driving vehicles in Novi, Michigan, Kirkland, Washington, San Francisco, and Phoenix, Arizona in its mission to build the world's most experienced driver.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
Air Taxi Startup Lilium Raises $240 Million in Fundraising Round Led By Tencent
Self-Driving Truck Startup TuSimple Announced Partnership with Auto Supplier ZF for the Production of Autonomous Trucks
Baidu is Building a 5G-Powered, 20 Square Kilometer Test Site for Connected & Autonomous Vehicles in Chongqing, China
Production of the Electric Performance Polestar 2 Begins in China
Chinese Automaker Geely is Delivering Keys by Drone for New Vehicle Purchases
Former Head of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project Pleads Guilty to Stealing Trade Secrets
Uber Shares Surge 37% After its CEO Says the Ride-Hailing Giant Has $10 Billion in Cash to Weather the Coronavirus Crisis
Chinese EV Startup XPeng Motors Granted Permit to Test its New P7 Sedan on Roads in the U.S.
- Autonomous Delivery Startup Nuro Granted Permission From U.S. Regulators to Deploy its Tiny Electric Vehicles
- Honda Planning to Debut Level 3 Autonomous Car in Japan Next Year
- Ford Purchases Property in Austin for Autonomous Car Command Center
- Chinese EV Startup NIO Raises $235 Million Through Private Placements as its Runs Low on Cash
- The BMW iX3 All-electric Crossover Will Get More Range Than Power
- Volkswagen to Launch 34 New Models in 2020, Including 12 SUVs
- Hyundai S-A1 Flying Taxi Could Help Uber Go Airborne by 2023
- GM Holding Talks With NHTSA for Autonomous Cars Without Steering Wheels
- California's State Assembly is Pushing a Bill to Speed Up the Construction of New EV Charging Sites
- Uber Granted a Permit to Test its Self-driving Vehicles on Public Roads in California