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Waymo targets snowy roads for self-driving cars

  • Waymo wants a clearer picture of how its vehicles and technology handle snow and ice covered roads.
  • It will also be closer to some of the automakers in Michigan it is working with to develop self-driving cars, including Fiat Chrysler.
  • General Motors has been testing some of its self-driving cars in the state for several months.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

After eight years of researching and developing self-driving cars in primarily warm and dry locations, Waymo wants a clearer picture of how its vehicles and technology handle snow and ice.

The tech firm, formerly known as the Google self-driving car project, will start testing its self-driving cars in Michigan.

"For human drivers, the mix of winter conditions can affect how well you can see, and the way your vehicle handles the road. The same is true for self-driving cars," President and CEO John Krafcik said. "This type of testing will give us the opportunity to assess the way our sensors perform in wet, cold conditions."

Testing autonomous-drive vehicles in Michigan means Waymo's fleet will be close to the self-driving technology development center the company opened last year. In addition, Waymo will be closer to some of the Michigan automakers it is working with to develop self-driving cars, including Fiat Chrysler. The Waymo fleet features Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans modified with Waymo's sensors and technology.

Gov. Rick Snyder says Waymo's fleet will see Michigan's roads in challenging conditions. "Michiganders certainly understand the challenges of driving in the winter, and I look forward to seeing how Waymo's engineers can address that in these next-generation vehicles," he said.

Self-driving cars are increasingly logging miles on Michigan roads and highways. General Motors has been testing some of its self-driving cars in the state for several months.

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