Waymo Rain Test Shows Robo-Taxi Stuck in Slow Lane

As if proving the first tentative steps into a commercial driverless taxi service is still some way off, Waymo has announced it needs to test its robo-taxi tech in the rain!

Despite claiming the highest number of real-world miles driven in autonomous modes in trials that have “taken us to snowy Novi, Michigan, rainy Kirkland, Washington, foggy San Francisco, and of course those dusty haboobs in Phoenix, Arizona,” in a company blog, it now admits it needs more wet weather testing in Miami.

The latest venue for its test mules, including its Chrysler Pacifica and a Jaguar I-Pace, was chosen because Miami is one of the wettest cities in the US, with annual average rainfall amounting to 61.9 inches.

However, while most seasoned drivers will know that heavy rainfall can deprive vision in even the most modern vehicle, it doesn’t pose the same level of risk factors of a snow storm. Yet, as far as this title is aware, Waymo has released no specific data about its winter testing. We do know that a planned AV demonstration for the 2018 NAIAS had to be abandoned when temperatures plummeted to -17C in Detroit accompanied by less than heavy snowfall.

Also, Ford’s autonomous vehicle boss, Sherif Marakby, has previously highlighted the particular problems self-driving vehicles have in snow, with Ford CEO Jim Hackett admitting earlier this year the company “overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles”.

Nonetheless, Waymo says it will soldier on by spending several weeks driving on a closed course in Naples, before taking the cars onto public roads in Miami. The cars will be manually operated by its test drivers, allowing the sensors to collect and gather data while being driven in heavy rain.

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