Autonomous vehicle (AV) tech developer Waymo is bringing its Chrysler Pacificas and a Jaguar I-Pace to the state of Florida to begin self-driving vehicle trials in heavy rain conditions.
According to a blog post, the company will begin the tests by spending several weeks driving on a closed course in Naples to rigorously test its sensor suite—which includes lidar, cameras, and radar—during the rainiest season in the south. Later in the month, Waymo will bring its vehicles to public roads in Miami.
The vehicles will be manually operated by trained Waymo test drivers,
providing the opportunity to collect data of real-world driving situations in heavy rain. Additionally, Florida residents will start seeing a few of the company's new vehicles on highways between Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, and Miami.
During the summer months of hurricane season, Miami is one of the wettest cities in the U.S., averaging an annual 61.9 in. of rain and experiencing some of the most intense weather conditions in the country. Heavy rain can create a lot of noise for AV sensors, and wet roads also could result in other road users behaving differently. This testing will allow the company to understand the unique driving conditions, and get a better handle on how rain affects the movements of its own vehicles.