Issue: Nov 2017


Waymo to begin self-driving in Michigan with expanded winter testing



by James Hilton

Waymo announced that Michigan will be the next location of its testing program. Heading into Michigan’s unpredictable winter season, Waymo will gain additional cold weather experience on public roads by testing its fully self-driving technology in a variety of conditions, including snow, sleet, and ice. Waymo began cold weather testing in 2012, and this new testing program in Michigan will build on previous efforts, including recent testing around the Nevada and California border of Lake Tahoe.

 

Basing additional cold weather testing in Michigan expands Waymo’s current presence in the state. In May 2016, Waymo opened a development center <https://plus.google.com/+SelfDrivingCar/posts/cwvk4uan3bM>  in Novi where our engineers currently work with local partners to integrate Waymo’s self-driving technology into our Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans. In the next few weeks Waymo’s vehicles will begin self-driving on public roads in the Greater Detroit area, beginning around Novi, MI. Each Waymo vehicle will have a trained test driver onboard.

 

CEO of Waymo John Krafcik: “Michigan is the birthplace of the American auto industry and an innovation hub, but it’s also famous for its unpredictable winter weather. Our Chrysler Pacifica minivans are our most advanced self-driving vehicles to date, and testing in snow, sleet and ice will help further hone our driving capabilities. Having lived through fourteen Michigan winters, I’m confident that there are few better places that will prepare our self-driving cars for winter conditions. We are looking forward to building on Waymo’s presence in the greater Detroit area.”

 

Governor Rick Snyder: “It’s great that a leader in autonomous vehicle development is going to expand its work in Michigan — the center of the rapidly expanding mobility industry.  Waymo clearly shares our concern for and commitment to safety for Michigan residents. I’m proud that Waymo chose Michigan to expand its testing as they take their self-driving vehicles into the next phase. 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.”

 

Waymo recently released its Safety Report <https://storage.googleapis.com/sdc-prod/v1/safety-report/waymo-safety-report-2017-10.pdf>  which details its comprehensive and robust testing program, including the importance real-world experience plays in developing its technology. Michigan will become the sixth state where Waymo is testing its self-driving vehicles. Over the last 8 years, Waymo’s vehicles have self-driven more than 3.5 million mile on public roads in over 20 American cities.

 

Waymo is committed improving public education around self-driving technology, launching the world’s first public education campaign <https://medium.com/waymo/lets-talk-self-driving-cars-72743d39cad8>  on fully self-driving cars earlier this month. Partnering with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Safety Council, and the Foundation for Blind Children, the initiative aims increase awareness and understanding about how this new technology could address some of the biggest safety challenges on roads today.



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