A big challenge for self-driving cars (and for human drivers) is driving in sub-optimal conditions, especially snow. Everything looks different, the vehicles behave differently, and the mechanical components aren’t as reliable.
That’s part of why most autonomous vehicle testing has taken place in sunny coastal California. Mountain View has 260 sunny days per year, and 0 snowfall.
Of course, not everywhere has weather like Mountain View, and getting cars to work in the snow is important. And to build autonomous vehicles that work in the snow, developers want access to as much snow as possible. It’s unproductive to sit around for weeks on end waiting for snow to fall.
So perhaps it is unsurprising that Audi is planning to build a test track in Deadhorse, Alaska — the very northern end of the US road system.
Originally published at www.davidincalifornia.com on December 11, 2015.