Google autonomous cars struggle in rain

Google’s autonomous car technology may not be as quite as developed as the Internet giant would have us believe.

In a report released by Google in December, updates revealed that while the self-driving cars can easily navigate busy roads and confusing junctions, covering between 10,000 and 15,000 autonomous miles a week, they falter when it comes to driving in the rain.

With plenty of rain recently in California – where Google carries out its autonomous testing – the engineers have had the opportunity to improve the car and enable it to drive safely in poor weather conditions and visibility.

The report read: "After a multi-year drought, we're finally starting to get some rain in California.

"It's not only a welcome relief for farmers and gardeners, but an opportunity for our cars to get more time learning in cold and rainy weather."

Similarly to human behavior behind the wheel, the self-driving cars will be taught to adjust their speed and movements behind the wheel. They will be able to 'see through' rain and exhaust clouds via the use of laser sensors and the dome-mounted equivalent of windscreen wipers.

The report stated that the cars were aware of how the rain may affect their ability to drive, but for now when faced with adverse weather conditions they will automatically pull over and wait out the storm, or a test driver will take over control.

Concluding, the report wrote: ‘Google is now beginning to collect data in snowy and rainy conditions to give its self-driving cars the skills to drive safely, no matter the weather.’

Adam Pilon


January 12, 2016

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