As we move forward in the automotive world and look to what we’re going to have for the enjoyment of driving in the future, more companies need to test their autonomous driving technology on roads that offer a challenge that might be faced on the roads. While the initial testing some companies perform at their facilities are done on a straight, flat, and perfectly lined road, this isn’t anything close to what we see most of the time on the roads around the country. This allows the right proving ground to be the roads of Michigan that offers a variety of challenges.
Michigan has at least three things going for it and is the place that has been chosen by Waymo to be the place that will be used for the testing of the autonomous technology that’s been developed by Google. The company has chosen this state as the place it will perform the winter testing needed to see how its vehicles, and more importantly, its autonomous technology will hold up during the driving around this state that offers the challenges that can give a real-time and real-world driving experience that we face on a typical day.
What Makes Michigan the Right Place?
As a state that’s located in the northern part of the country, Michigan can experience frost or snow anytime from October to June. This is a state that offers an unpredictability of the weather to make it the place that can offer the conditions that are unexpected and will need to be programmed for proper use of the technology being developed. This will be a challenge that Waymo welcomes as they work to develop programming and technology that can respond under all conditions that could be faced when on the roads in Michigan.
The second reason that Michigan is a great place to test autonomous technology, and one that the leaders in this state probably don’t want to be highlighted, is the road conditions you’ll find. The roads are torn apart by weather and the lack of repairs to offer potholes that need to be avoided and road conditions that can only nicely be described as much less than desirable. It might be ironic that the home of the automotive industry in this country is also where you’ll find some of the worst roads in the country, but that makes it a better proving ground for Waymo.
Because Michigan is home to the automotive industry and is a state that wants to allow and be the place that companies choose for their testing, the permissive laws in place allow for these cars to be tested more easily than in most other states. This fact makes it easy for Waymo to set up and develop the testing needed to advance their autonomous technology over the next several months through the winter and into the spring of next year. With the challenges and permission offered, we should expect Waymo to have some advanced technology to offer after this winter has passed.