Waymo autopilot won't ride in bad weather

Soon all of us will have a wonderful future, where people will not be allowed to drive cars with the exception of specially designated places. But while we are at the very beginning of the development of autonomous cars. And periodically, interesting or unexpected features of the computer vision of the car's control systems pop up. For example, some “autopilots” did not see emergency vehicles, including firefighters and police officers.


A Tesla Model S driver crashed into a police SUV. He rode on autopilot

Vyacheslav Lazarev

May 30, 2018

And such things happen quite often. Some of them can be called funny, while some, like the death of a cyclist, are not.

Now it’s become known that, under certain weather conditions, Google’s Waymo cars will not move.

What happened?

A blog entry appeared on Waymo's blog about how a car with company technology will behave in conditions where visibility is greatly reduced.

The answer turned out to be insanely simple: the autopilot simply does not budge.

Sounds weird

I can not agree. Why do I need an autopilot if it does not move during any weather?

But there’s a moment here: from the phrase “the level of visibility is greatly reduced” we don’t understand exactly what conditions we are talking about. And here you can only speculate:

Our vehicles will automatically detect sudden extreme weather conditions like blizzards affecting safe driving by humans or autopilots. If the weather conditions worsen to such an extent that they can affect the safe operation of our vehicles, Waymo vehicles will stop until the conditions improve – just like a motorcyclist can stop under a flyover in heavy rain.


And now this statement sounds more logical.

In January 2008, there was a strong snowstorm in my hometown. So strong that visibility was several meters from the force. In such circumstances, it is logical not to go anywhere and wait for the end of the blizzard. Moreover, during a strong snowstorm, you not only see nothing, but most likely do not hear anything – the wind is really very strong. A similar situation occurs during a strong sandstorm, as well as very strong fog.

But a strong snowstorm is a strong snowstorm. The situation is the same with fog and sandstorm. But you can understand the approximate level of technological vision from this video:

At least, reasonable drivers are unlikely to drive in such conditions, since zero visibility is comparable to driving blindfolded, otherwise, some kind of “Bird Box” turns out.

So the news about the impossibility to move in such weather conditions looks more like another attempt to light a fire without matches and laugh: "Ahahaha, lidars do not see nifig."

Apple was in a similar situation with its titanium card and instructions on how to protect this card from external influences: if you want to keep it in its original form – follow the instructions. If you are interested in the card for the first two minutes – score it and calmly use it like a regular credit card.

Auto, Articles

Autopilot safety discussions need to end

Ilya Kichaev

June 2, 2018

Therefore, there is nothing stupid or unusual in that autopilots will wait for dangerous weather conditions. This is normal. And it will save many lives.


Chief editor of the blogErika J. Wells .

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