Waymo plans to get an early start on testing its self-driving cars in Michigan for the winter. Winter has come.

Photo Source: Waymo
Self-driving cars are getting closer and closer to becoming an everyday as more companies drive in, create partnerships, and test their potential offerings.
Waymo is one of the major players in world of autonomous vehicles.  The company started as a Google self-driving project in 2009 and became Waymo in 2016.
Since its inception, the project has been working towards making our roads safer and to improve mobility for everyone. In 2009, they set out in Toyota Prius vehicles and drove more than ten uninterrupted 100-mile routes.

Photo Source: Waymo
In 2012, they added the Lexus RX450h and continued self-driving on freeways  and having a few Google employees to test vehicles by using them for work and weekend trips. By this time, the company completed more than 300,000 self-driven miles and started focusing on city streets with pedestrians, cyclists, road work and much more. Headlines were made when , cyclists, road work and much more. Headlines were made when Steve Mahan from the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center took his first test ride in the driver's seat, accompanied by a test driver.

Fast forward to 2015, and we see “Firefly makes its debut on public roads.  This self-driving car was built from the ground and complete with custom sensors, computers, steering and braking. The only things missing were the steering wheel and pedals. The year 2015 marked the first time a passenger, Steve Mahan, rode alone in an autonomous vehicle on public roads in Austin, TX.

Now we are here in 2017, and Waymo has introduced the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans. There Chrysler minivans are the company’s first vehicle built on a mass-production platform with a fully-integrated hardware suite, newly designed by Waymo for the purpose of full autonomy.

Another major hurdle for autonomous driving is navigating through snowy and icy conditions.  Now that “Winter Has Come”, (Yes, I am a Game of Thrones fan), Waymo has begun testing their Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans in challenging snowy and icy conditions.

Photo Source: Waymo
Waymo CEO John Krafcik had this to say in a blog post, “Now, just in time for the first snowfall of the season, Waymo self-driving cars will hit Michigan roads for the winter. This type of testing will give us the opportunity to assess the way our sensors perform in wet, cold conditions. And it will also build on the advanced driving skills we’ve developed over the last eight years by teaching our cars how to handle things like skidding on icy, unplowed roads.”

I can’t wait for my first ride in an autonomous vehicle. Closest I got to that was falling asleep at the wheel some 30 years ago.  I trust my next self-driving experience will be a thousand times better.

Source: Waymo

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