Waymo’s self-driving van is headed to Death Valley

The company is testing how its autonomous vehicle handles extreme heat.

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Among the challenges that come with making self-driving cars road-ready, is making sure they can withstand extreme weather. They won't be much use if they can only operate in pristine conditions. In that regard, Alphabet's self-driving outfit Waymo has been taking its cars on road trips so they can be tested in some actual weather and not just in mild Mountain View.

The company tweeted a picture of one of its Chrysler Pacificas driving in some hotter temperatures as it heads down to Death Valley, where temperatures have soared as high as 134 degrees. In March, Waymo tested how its cars handle snowy conditions in South Lake Tahoe. And the company is exposing its autonomous vehicles to desert climates in Arizona as well as rainy weather in Washington.

Last December Waymo's CEO John Krafcik said that the Chrysler minivans had already undergone 200 hours of extreme weather testing. Death Valley is really extreme though and temperatures are set to approach 120 degrees there this weekend. Should be a pretty good test of its abilities.

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