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Google to test self-driving cars in Michigan's winter conditions

Google to test self-driving cars in Michigan's winter conditions
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Google’s self-driving car company will test autonomous vehicles in Michigan this winter in order to see how they fare in snowy and icy conditions.

Waymo, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, announced Thursday that its autonomous cars will start hitting the public roads in the Greater Detroit area in the next few weeks. The goal is to test the technology in a variety of cold-weather conditions, including snow, sleet and ice.

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Not only is Michigan one of the epicenters for autonomous vehicle technology, but the state is also known for its brutal winters. Waymo also opened a development center in Novi, Mich., last year.

“For human drivers, the mix of winter conditions can affect how well you can see, and the way your vehicle handles the road. The same is true for self-driving cars,” said Waymo CEO John Krafcik.

"At Waymo, our ultimate goal is for our fully self-driving cars to operate safely and smoothly in all kinds of environments.”

Waymo began cold-weather testing in 2012, including recent testing in snow around the Nevada and California border of Lake Tahoe. But the conditions in Michigan could prove even tougher.

The new testing program will seek to build on technology, developed over the last eight years, that teaches Waymo’s cars to handle things like skidding on icy, unplowed roads.