Can self-driving, autonomous, or driverless vehicles operate in extreme heat or cold?

1 answer

Waymo’s self-driving technology allows vehicles to operate reliably and safely in extreme cold and oppressive heat. Waymo engineers have developed both self-driving hardware and software in-house to create a complete system that can work reliably in the toughest environments.

Waymo is Equipped with Cooling Systems

Heat poses challenges for all modern technology. Everyday electronics like cell phones can overheat and switch off when used in the bright sun. However, Waymo’s self-driving system needs to operate safely even in hot conditions. Waymo vehicles are equipped with a special cooling system that lets them operate under very hot temperatures, even with an engine running at full power and systems at full capacity.

Waymo’s engineers perform extensive testing in a wind tunnel that can mimic almost any weather condition, including the hottest temperatures ever recorded on Earth.

In addition to wind tunnel testing, Waymo has tested its self-driving vehicle in three of America’s hottest places: Las Vegas, Davis Dam, and Death Valley. The Davis Dam, on the Arizona and Nevada border, has long stretches of steep desert road for Waymo to drive under the hot sun. The Las Vegas Strip lets Waymo test its systems in countless busy lanes of stop-and-go city traffic under intense heat. Death Valley holds the record for the highest officially recorded temperature on Earth of 134°F.

During testing, Waymo closely monitors its systems, taking over 200 different measurements per second to confirm that its in-house sensor suite and computers keep working as intended.

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