In order to defeat Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, Rocky Balboa trains in the USSR’s subzero tundra. While Hollywood may not produce a similar movie about Waymo, Google’s self-driving car sister company, the firm plans to make like Rocky and move testing operations to Michigan in order to train autonomous cars to weather cold, snowy conditions.
Michigan will be Waymo’s sixth training site nationwide; the company has already tested vehicles in Texas, Arizona, Washington, Nevada, and California.
“This type of testing will give us the opportunity to assess the way our sensors perform in wet, cold conditions,” said Waymo CEO John Krafcik. “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.”
After Waymo began working with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles last spring, the partnership produced autonomous Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans. The Pacificas will be the first cars to undergo testing at Waymo’s self-driving technology development center in Novi, Michigan.
There has been no official statement regarding a testing timeline or how many autonomous vehicles will be tested.
Thus far, Waymo’s autonomous car tests have included human drivers, in order to “disengage” the self-driving function in case of emergency. Waymo officials have committed to testing throughout the United States, and in various weather conditions.
“By driving every day in different types of real-world conditions, we teach our cars to navigate safely and comfortably through all sorts of situations,” Waymo officials wrote in a statement. “Our fleet has self-driven more than 3 million miles, mostly on city streets.