Among the multitude of problems that self-driving cars face, chief among them is bad weather, although human drivers aren’t good at dealing with that either. To mitigate this, Waymo hopes to turn its autonomous robotic axis into mobile weather indicators.
The Alphabet company announced that the latest version of the suite of sensors in its autonomous vehicles, which uses a combination of cameras, radar and lidar, can measure the weather conditions the car may face, specifically the intensity of raindrops (or the lack of them). as well as fog. It would turn the vehicles into, as the company says, “mobile weather stations.”
This doesn’t mean you’ll see a Waymo car reporting the weather on your local TV station anytime soon, but it will help the robotaxis make real-time decisions to adapt to weather conditions on the ground. It is being tested to begin with in Phoenix and San Francisco, two very different climates.
Taking this approach would potentially offset the limitations of relying solely on weather data from airport weather stations, satellites, and radar sources, and provide more local, pragmatic data—in this case, what’s happening directly in front of the car. That could come in handy if a black cloud follows one of them like a cartoon.
But since the sensors ostensibly turn vehicles into amateur meteorologists, Waymo can also use the data to create real-time weather maps for conditions like rolling coastal fog, as well as light drizzle that might not be detected by radar.
The technology itself is clearly as in its infancy as driverless cars, and we’re nowhere near the kind of uninhibited autonomous technology that movies like minority report Y me, the robots It led us to believe that they were just around the corner.
Still, when one looks at the number of traffic accidents that occur with human drivers who mistakenly believe they know how to drive in the rain or snow, it seems that any additional help in this area wouldn’t hurt.