Car Industry

Waymo heads to Michigan for autonomous winter testing

This isn't Waymo's first foray in Michigan, and it won't be the last, either.

Waymo

Winter is coming, and Waymo's heading north to make sure its self-driving platform can handle some of the harshest winters in the country.

Waymo announced Thursday that it will head to the Great White North of Michigan to test its autonomous vehicles this winter. The goal is to build the platform's experience in handling snow, sleet, ice and the fact that every single driver in Michigan forgets how to pilot a vehicle during the winter months.

Waymo got here a little early -- we haven't even had a frost in Detroit yet.

Waymo

You know a state's drivers aren't exactly up to snuff when a major manufacturer's Twitter drops the F-bomb trying to describe the situation.

This will be Waymo's first round of winter testing in Michigan. Previously, it's tested vehicles in Lake Tahoe, which sounds a bit more idyllic than Ann Arbor or Livonia. Michigan's a good place for it, though, because it's one of the few deep-winter states that has a law on the books permitting autonomous testing. For safety's sake, there will be a test driver onboard each vehicle.

It's not like this is the first time Waymo's stepped foot in the state. Waymo opened a development center in Novi in 2016, which is where the Google spinoff marries its technology to the Chrysler Pacifica minivans that carry it.

Waymo's goal is to become a supplier in the autonomous-vehicle space, offering for sale a platform that automakers can purchase and add to their own vehicles. It's a smart move, because it saves billions of dollars compared to developing a new car from scratch, and it will offer autonomy for automakers that lack the time or resources to build something proprietary.