Waymo Testing Driverless Vehicles During Florida’s Hurricane Season

Waymo has been testing driverless tech for a while now in cities like Phoenix and Austin. They’ve been on nearly every type of road with a wide variety of vehicles. Their latest destination is Florida, with a focus on seeing how their tech stacks up in the worst of weather conditions.

Hurricane season is just beginning in the Sunshine State and Waymo is looking to see if their driverless vehicles can operate efficiently in heavy rains and wind. The vehicles will be the Chrysler Pacifica and Jaguar I Pace with most of the testing taking place in the Miami and Naples areas which are sure to see their fair share of storms.

Driverless Vehicles Face Added Challenges in Bad Weather

Driving in normal conditions is one thing but autonomous vehicles face a whole other set of challenges when operating in harsh weather. Along with slicker roads, heavy rain can create a good amount of noise for sensors which could potentially disorientate the AI. Along with changing road conditions, the driverless vehicles will have to react to human drivers who often behave differently when weather is not optimal.

Testing during Florida’s rainy season will allow Waymo to collect a large amount of data on how their tech responds to unique driving conditions. They’ll also get a better picture of how the weather affects the hardware along with the AI’s interpretation of the roads.

Driverless vehicles in the rain Florida - Yellrobot
credit: Waymo

Testing on Closed Course in Naples and Streets of Miami

For the first few weeks, Waymo will be testing their driverless cars on a closed course in Naples. They’ll be focusing on the sensor suite seeing how the lidar, cameras, and radar hold up in the rain. Later in the month, they will bring the vehicles to the public roads and highways around Miami. These vehicles will be mostly manually operated in an effort to collect data.

“Later in the month, we’ll bring our vehicles to public roads in Miami. They’ll be manually operated by our trained test drivers which will give us the opportunity to collect data of real-world driving situations in heavy rain. Additionally, Florida residents will start seeing a few of our vehicles on highways between Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers and Miami as we learn about Florida roads,” said Waymo in a blog posting.

Check out our articles on food delivery robots in Sacramento and driverless airport shuttles in Austin.