What happens if self-driving, autonomous, or driverless vehicles are exposed to extreme weather or conditions?

Self-driving vehicles, like their conventional counterparts, must operate reliably. That means the vehicle and each of its individual components must function under extreme environmental conditions and over the lifetime of the vehicle.

Waymo engineers design unique stress tests. Using their knowledge of the physics of failure to accelerate environmental stresses on the Waymo vehicle and its individual components, they compress years of real-world use into days and weeks of testing.

UV Radiation, Earthquakes, Salt, and Humidity

Engineers blast Waymo’s components with ultraviolet radiation, bombard them with powerful water jets, dunk them into nearly freezing vats of water, corrode them in chambers full of salty mist, shake and shock them with powerful vibrations to simulate earthquakes, and heat and freeze them for weeks at a time in temperature and humidity chambers. They analyze any failures and make design improvements to increase the reliability of Waymo’s components. They monitor the health of each sensor, and the vehicle itself, so they can identify and fix potential failures before they occur.