Both human-driven and self-driving cars need to drive in many different weather conditions. Waymo is designing and testing our system to work safely and reliably in the toughest environments. Over the last few years our testing has taken us to snowy Novi, Michigan, rainy Kirkland, Washington, foggy San Francisco, and of course those dusty haboobs in Phoenix, Arizona. This month, Florida joins the list: we’re bringing Waymo vehicles — including both our Chrysler Pacificas and a Jaguar I-Pace — to the state to begin heavy rain testing.
During the summer months of Hurricane Season, Miami is one of the wettest cities in the U.S., averaging an annual 61.9 inches of rain and experiencing some of the most intense weather conditions in the country.
Heavy rain can create a lot of noise for our sensors. Wet roads also may result in other road users behaving differently. Testing allows us to understand the unique driving conditions, and get a better handle on how rain affects our own vehicle movements, too.
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. Later in the month, we’ll bring our vehicles to public roads in Miami. They’ll be manually operated by our trained test drivers which will give us the opportunity to collect data of real-world driving situations in heavy rain. 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.
“At Miami-Dade County we are constantly exploring ways to improve and provide more mobility options for our community,” said Alice N. Bravo, P.E., Director of Miami-Dade County’s Department of Transportation and Public Works. “I’m supportive of Waymo’s presence in the County as they continue to push technological boundaries and discover new ways to help us move.”
“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,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. “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.”
Thank you to Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami, and the City of Naples for welcoming Waymo to your communities. While we recognize the irony, we’re excited to add “rain testing in the ‘Sunshine State’” to the list of places our growing fleet has driven!