Ice & Weather report

Arjeplog today

Temp 11 °C

Wind 3.8 m/s

Ice thickness 80 cm

Arvidsjaur today

Temp 12.2 °C

Wind 3.3 m/s

Ice thickness 85 cm

21 May 2021

The necessity of winter testing facilities for smart cars

Extreme weather conditions and climate phenomenons will continue to increase with climate change. This will not only affect traffic, but also big parts of the traffic network including structures and control systems, means of transportation, and transport operations.

Winter presents some of the most, if not the most, difficult weather conditions for smart cars and vehicles in general. Numerous issues arise concerning smart cars when driving in a wintry environment, for example, how does an autonomous vehicle position itself when it is snowing and it can’t see the road? And how do smart vehicles communicate with each other in arctic conditions? 

To simulate driving in cold weather and consistently test smart cars, winter vehicle testing facilities, cold chambers, car endurances test tracks and other testing facilities are a necessity to put the functionalities and performance of the smart car and other cars to the test.

The uprising of smart cars

As new and better self-driving technologies are being developed, the demand for better vehicle testing facilities is increasing. We’ve come a long way in terms of smart cars, just last year (2020), Waymo launched their self-driving taxis in the U.S. 

But they are not without fail.

They need to be continually tested through vehicle testing facilities and car endurance test tracks to be further developed to make sure no potentially dangerous situations arise. Especially in the more extreme environments where the climate and weather has a greater impact on the technologies.

The harshness of winter

As of now, the industry is far more concerned with testing, demonstrating, and deploying smart vehicles in fair-weather locations. This somewhat warm-weather bias could potentially limit where autonomous smart cars can be deployed, or cause problems if the car is rolled out in colder climates too quickly. 

The challenges posed by winter to robot cars are global. For example, when the temperatures get cold, most car batteries won’t be able to deliver as much current as they’re supposed to do - this goes for electric car batteries as well. 

Snow and rain can obscure and confuse sensors, hide markings on the road, and make a car perform differently. 

Another problem is that bad weather represents a difficult test for artificial intelligence algorithms. Programs trained to be able to pick out cars and pedestrians in bright sunshine will struggle to make sense of vehicles topped with snow, and even people bundled up in several heavy layers of clothing.

The need for winter vehicle testing facilities

Smart, autonomous vehicles will be part of the future - we doubt anyone would challenge that claim. The question is to what extent will they be able to be deployed in the next couple of years? As mentioned, the smart cars of today perform great in fair weather conditions. But so far, we’ve yet to see a breakthrough in terms of autonomous vehicles driving safely and efficiently in cold and snowy conditions.

As with every invention or product, it will need to go through rigorous testing before it can be deployed in public. This is where we come into the picture...

Winter vehicle testing facilities by Icemakers

Icemakers is a world-leading ice track maker, pioneering winter test regions where we operate as a full-service winter test supplier to our clients. We offer a wide range of services including:

We provide a complete range of test-related services to let our clients fully focus on their task - test and improve their products and materials of tomorrow’s smart car industry.

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