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Waymo Uses 3D Mapping To Gauge LA Self-Driving Logistics

Waymo announced that it will use its 3D mapping technology to figure out if its self-driving cars can navigate the heavy traffic congestion in Los Angeles. While there are no immediate plans to launch in the city, the company is sending a small fleet of its Chrysler minivans to L.A. to carry out the preliminary mapping process.

“Angelenos might catch a glimpse of Waymo’s cars on the streets of L.A.,” the company tweeted. “[Waymo] vehicles will be in town exploring how [our 3D technology] might fit into L.A.’s dynamic transportation environment, and complement the city’s innovative approach to transportation.”

Waymo will analyze details to find out if traffic patterns and driving habits are different in L.A. than in other U.S. cities.

“Congestion is a totally different thing, and we’re really excited to see how that congestion kind of manifests itself,” David Margines, Waymo’s product manager for mapping, said in an interview with Forbes. “Is it similar to San Francisco congestion, and the behavior of San Francisco? Or given the way L.A. is kind of built around the vehicle, whether the layout of it has actually allowed drivers to make fewer lane changes, or double-park fewer times, or create the types of situations that both human and autonomous vehicles have challenges around.”

Just last month, the company announced it was planning to test autonomous vehicles in the rainy conditions of Florida, collecting data, and testing how the cars’ sensors handle the rain.

“Heavy rain can create a lot of noise for our sensors. Wet roads also may result in other road users behaving differently,” Waymo said at the time. “Testing allows us to understand the unique driving conditions, and get a better handle on how rain affects our own vehicle movements, too.”

Waymo started testing autonomous vehicles in the Mountain View, California-area, then branched out to other places like Novi, Michigan; Kirkland, Washington; and San Francisco.

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