Written by IEEE | March 15, 2016

Winter might be winding down, but testing of the performance of autonomous cars in inclement weather will continue over time. Attaching the concept of autonomy to a car implies that it should be able to react and adapt to all weather conditions. With most driverless car tests happening in sunny California, it begs the question of whether or not they can pull through safely in snow, sleet and serious rain.  

Like most problems, Google is on the hunt for an answer. They’ve taken their prototypes north to Washington to expose their intelligent transportation solutions to a common blunder: rain. The state’s mountainous terrain will also offer the vehicles a chance to experience the challenge of altitude and incline. To acclimate the cars, engineers will have to account for wet surfaces and inclines that might occur simultaneously.

A recent Fortune article detailed a test experience with a Kia Sedona on the snowy roads of Michigan, explaining how the snowfall disrupted the vehicle’s sensors to the point where the driver had to disable the car’s parking assistant feature. Other functionality rendered useless by the inclement weather included the optical cameras used to keep the car on its path in a single lane.

With snowy weather on hold for now, the pressure is on manufacturers to create solutions that will correct driverless cars’ shortcomings, including things like car-to-car communication through wireless signals.

As more automakers venture into aspects of autonomy, the challenge of testing will continue to be a hot button issue — with more diverse test environments with respect to weather, road conditions and topography. Now, if only the autonomous functions included cleaning off the snow.

INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCES

Exceptional Infrastructure Challenges, Technology and Humanity

The Global Impact of IEEE's 802 Standards

Scenes of our Cyber Lives: The Security Threats and Technology Solutions Protecting Us

How Millennial Parents are Embracing Health and Wellness Technologies for Their Generation Alpha Kids

Space Exploration, Technology and Our Lives

Global Innovation and the Environment

How Technology, Privacy and Security are Changing Each Other (And Us)

Find us in booth 31506, LVCC South Hall 3 and experience the Technology Moon Walk

Virtual and Mixed Reality

How Robots are Improving our Health

IEEE Experts and the Robots They are Teaching

See how millennial parents around the world see AI impacting the lives of their tech-infused offspring

Take the journey from farm to table and learn how IoT will help us reach the rising demand for food production

Watch technical experts discuss the latest cyber threats

Explore how researchers, teachers, explorers, healthcare and medical professionals use immersive technologies

Follow the timeline to see how Generation AI will be impacted by technology

Learn how your IoT data can be used by experiencing a day in a connected life

Listen to technical experts discuss the biggest security threats today

See how tech has influenced and evolved with the Games

Enter our virtual home to explore the IoT (Internet of Things) technologies

Explore an interactive map showcasing exciting innovations in robotics

Interactively explore A.I. in recent Hollywood movies

Get immersed in technologies that will improve patients' lives