Alphabet’s autonomous driving division has announced that it will bring a number of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica prototypes and an autonomous Jaguar I-Pace to Florida in order to conduct certain tests.
In recent years, Waymo has tested its autonomous systems throughout various cities in the United States to ensure it works perfectly in all types of conditions. Florida will likely prove one of the most challenging, because during the summer months of hurricane season, it is one of the wettest cities in the country, with an average annual rainfall of 61.9-inches (157 cm).
Waymo says heavy rain “can create a lot of noise” for its sensors, while wet roads can also alter how other road users behave, forcing a self-driving car to also “react” differently.
Local testing will initially commence on a closed course in Naples where Waymo’s lidar, cameras, and radar systems will be put to the test. Shortly afterwards, it will extend to public roads in Miami, where the vehicles will be manually operated by test drivers to allow the various onboard systems to gather data of real-world driving situations in heavy rain. The autonomous prototypes will also be tested on various highways between Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, and Miami.
“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,” Miami mayor Francis Suarez 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.”