The autonomous driving industry is improving in a rapid manner, mostly thanks to numerous efforts from tech giants like Google, Tesla, and Uber. However, while self-driving cars finally seem like valid means of transportation, they're still far from perfect, especially when they're operating in weather conditions that are less than ideal. As autonomous vehicles heavily rely on various sensors to perceive their environment, adverse weather conditions like heavy snow or rain can severely cripple their ability to drive in a safe manner.
Now, all automakers investing in self-driving technology are aware of that problem, which is why most of them have already started testing their prototypes in harsh weather. Last week, General Motors revealed plans to start testing its autonomous vehicles in Michigan's cold weather, while Uber recently started preparing its self-driving cars for adverse weather conditions in Pittsburgh. Back in early 2016, Ford completed its first autonomous driving test in icy conditions, and the company continues to pursue this line of testing to this date. In other words, almost all major car makers that are developing self-driving technology are also simultaneously testing their prototypes in snowy and other problematic weather conditions and are relatively straightforward when it comes to talking about these endeavors.
However, Google is the one exception to this rule. As things stand right now, the Mountain View-based tech giant has yet to announce any initiative designed to prepare its autonomous vehicles for snowy conditions. The company is currently testing its prototypes in California, Texas, Arizona, and Washington, and while these sites are ideal for adjusting the vehicles for extreme temperatures, heavy rain, and dusty roads, none of them were picked with icy roads in mind. So, despite the fact that Google started its autonomous driving initiative way sooner than most other tech giants currently driving advancements in this field, the company is seemingly falling behind competitors when it comes to testing prototypes in extreme weather conditions. Interestingly enough, while this same problem was highlighted almost two years ago, the Alphabet-owned company has yet to announce how it's planning to test its self-driving cars in snow and it's still refusing requests for comments on the matter as of last Saturday, as reported by Business Insider.