Waymo to test self-driving cars in Michigan's winter conditions

To achieve full, Level 5 autonomy, vehicles need to be able to handle all of the environmental conditions a human can.

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Waymo plans to test its self-driving car technology on the cold, icy roads of the greater Detroit region this winter, the company said Thursday.

"For human drivers, the mix of winter conditions can affect how well you can see, and the way your vehicle handles the road. The same is true for self-driving cars," wrote CEO John Krafcik in a blog post.

The Alphabet-owned company has been conducting cold weather testing since 2012. To achieve Level 5 automation -- fully autonomous driving -- vehicles need to be able to handle all environmental conditions that can be managed by a human driver.

In May 2016, Waymo opened a 53,000 square-foot facility in Novi, Mich., where engineers have been outfitting Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans with Waymo sensors. Production of the self-driving minivans began in October of last year, and they were tested early on at Fiat Chrysler's Chelsea Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Mich.

Michigan is one of 21 states that have passed laws related to autonomous vehicles. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, governors in another five other states have issued executive orders on the matter.

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