Around the world, companies are racing to create fully autonomous vehicles. But according to Professor Steven Waslander (UTIAS), there’s one scenario facing all competitors that hasn’t yet received as much attention as it deserves: winter.
“Winter conditions aggravate the remaining challenges in autonomous driving,” says Waslander. “Reduced visibility limits perception performance, and slippery road surfaces are a big challenge for vehicle control.”
To drive safely in all conditions, including winter, Waslander says that autonomous vehicles will need to fully observe their surroundings despite limits to their sensor range, to get advanced warning of challenging situations and to react very quickly to changing conditions.
Waslander — along with fellow U of T Engineering professors and members of the U of T Robotics Institute including Timothy Barfoot, Jonathan Kelly and Angela Schoellig (all UTIAS) — is leading a new partnership that will take on these challenges by bringing together the best minds from academia and industry.
WinTOR: Autonomous Driving in Adverse Conditions is a new collaboration that aims to transform Toronto into a global hub for research and development related to autonomous driving in winter. Corporate partners include leading companies in the autonomous vehicles sector such as General Motors Canada, LG Electronics, Applanix and Algolux.