Waymo plans to test autonomous vehicles in the rainy conditions of Florida, according to a report.
The company, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, will collect data and test how the cars’ sensors handle the rain. The vehicles will be driven by trained Waymo drivers, the company said in a blog post.
“Heavy rain can create a lot of noise for our sensors. Wet roads also may result in other road users behaving differently,” the company said. “Testing allows us to understand the unique driving conditions, and get a better handle on how rain affects our own vehicle movements, too.”
The autonomous car company has two self-driving vehicles: the Chrysler Pacifica and a Jaguar I-Pace, both of which will be tested in Naples and Miami. Miami is one of the rainiest cities in the country, as it gets about 61.9 inches of rain per year.
Waymo started testing autonomous vehicles in the Mountain View, California area and then branched out to other places like Novi, Michigan; Kirkland, Washington; and San Francisco. Most of the testing has happened in Phoenix and Mountain View, both predominantly sunny areas.
Waymo has a technical center in Chandler, Arizona, where it began running tests in 2016. A year later, the company launched an early rider program to help it move toward eventual commercial usage.
“First, we’re spending several weeks driving on a closed course in Naples, where we will rigorously test our sensor suite – which includes lidar, cameras and radar – during the rainiest season in the south,” the company said. “Later in the month, we’ll bring our vehicles to public roads in Miami. 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.”
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said he is glad Waymo chose the city for testing.
“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,” he said. “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.”