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1. (WO2014168851) METHODS AND SYSTEMS FOR DETECTING WEATHER CONDITIONS USING VEHICLE ONBOARD SENSORS
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CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A method comprising :

receiving laser data collected for an environment of a vehicle, wherein the laser data includes a plurality of laser data points;

associating, by a computing device, laser data points of the plurality of laser data points with one or more objects in the environment;

determining given laser data points of the plurality of laser data points that are unassociated with the one or more objects in the environment as being representative of an untracked object; and

based on one or more untracked objects being determined, identifying by the computing device an indication of a weather condition of the environment.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein receiving the laser data collected for the environment of the vehicle comprises receiving the laser data collected by performing one or more scans of the environment, and the method further comprises:

tracking the one or more objects in the environment as the vehicle moves through the environment based on laser data received in the one or more scans of the environment.

3. The method of claim 1, further comprising:

for a first scan of the environment, associating, by the computing device, the laser data points of the plurality of laser data points with one or more objects in the environment;

for a second scan of the environment, determining laser data points that match to the one or more objects based on a location of an object represented by the laser data points; and

determining the given laser data points that are unassociated with the one or more objects in the environment based on a lack of a match to the one or more objects in the first scan.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein identifying by the computing device the indication of the weather condition of the environment comprises:

determining that a number of the given laser data points unassociated with the one or more objects in the environment is above a threshold number.

5. The method of claim 1, further comprising:

receiving additional data collected for the environment of the vehicle from one or more additional sensors, wherein the additional data is indicative of a presence of one or more objects in the environment of the vehicle;

determining laser data points of the plurality of laser data points that are associated with the one or more objects in the environment indicated by the additional data; and

based on laser data points being unassociated with the one or more objects in the environment indicated by the additional data, identifying the indication of the weather condition of the environment.

6. The method of claim 1, further comprising:

receiving radar data collected for the environment of the vehicle, wherein the radar data is indicative of a presence of one or more objects in the environment of the vehicle;

determining laser data points of the plurality of laser data points that are associated with the one or more objects in the environment indicated by the radar data; and

based on laser data points being unassociated with the one or more objects in the environment indicated by the radar data, identifying the indication of the weather condition of the environment.

7. The method of claim 1, further comprising:

receiving image data captured from a camera coupled to the vehicle; and

identifying a second indication of the weather condition of the environment based on the image data.

8. The method of claim 1, further comprising:

receiving weather information for a location of the vehicle from a server over a network; and

identifying a second indication of the weather condition of the environment based on the weather information.

9. The method of claim 1, further comprising:

receiving a current temperature for a location of the vehicle from a server over a network; and

identifying a second indication of the weather condition of the environment based on the current temperature.

10. The method of claim 1, further comprising:

receiving precipitation data from a precipitation sensor coupled to the vehicle; and identifying a second indication of the weather condition of the environment based on the precipitation data.

11. The method of claim 1 , wherein the vehicle is configured to operate in an autonomous mode, and the method further comprises based on the indication of the weather condition of the environment, determining a driving decision for the vehicle.

12. The method of claim 1, further comprising:

determining a speed of the vehicle, and

wherein identifying by the computing device the indication of the weather condition of the environment includes identifying that a surface on which the vehicle travels is wet based on the speed of the vehicle being above a threshold.

13. The method of claim 1, further comprising:

comparing the given laser data points that are unassociated with the one or more objects in the environment with stored laser data points representative of a pattern due to fog; and

based on the comparison, identifying by the computing device the indication of the weather condition of the environment to include fog.

14. The method of claim 1, further comprising:

determining that the given laser data points of the plurality of laser data points that are unassociated with the one or more objects in the environment are representative of an untracked object at a given position with respect to the vehicle;

determining that the untracked object remains at a substantially same relative position with respect to the vehicle as the vehicle moves; and

identifying by the computing device the indication of the weather condition of the environment to be sunny.

15. The method of claim 1, further comprising:

determining a geographic location of the vehicle and a time of day;

based on the geographic location of the vehicle and the time of day, determining an approximate position of the sun relative to the vehicle; and

identifying by the computing device a second indication of the weather condition of the environment based on the approximate position of the sun relative to the vehicle.

16. A non-transitory computer readable storage medium having stored therein instructions, that when executed by a computing device, cause the computing device to perform functions comprising:

receiving laser data collected for an environment of a vehicle, wherein the laser data includes a plurality of laser data points;

associating laser data points of the plurality of laser data points with one or more objects in the environment;

determining given laser data points of the plurality of laser data points that are unassociated with the one or more objects in the environment as being representative of an

untracked object; and

based on one or more untracked objects being determined, identifying an indication of a weather condition of the environment.

17. The non-transitory computer readable storage medium of claim 16, wherein receiving the laser data collected for the environment of the vehicle comprises receiving the laser data collected by performing one or more scans of the environment, and the functions further comprise:

tracking the one or more objects in the environment as the vehicle moves through the environment based on laser data received in the one or more scans of the environment.

18. The non-transitory computer readable storage medium of claim 16, wherein the functions further comprise:

receiving additional data collected for the environment of the vehicle from one or more additional sensors, wherein the additional data is indicative of a presence of one or more objects in the environment of the vehicle;

determining laser data points of the plurality of laser data points that are associated with the one or more objects in the environment indicated by the additional data; and

based on laser data points being unassociated with the one or more objects in the environment indicated by the additional data, identifying the indication of the weather condition of the environment.

19. A system, comprising :

at least one processor; and

data storage comprising instructions executable by the at least one processor to cause the system to perform functions comprising:

receiving laser data collected for an environment of a vehicle, wherein the laser data includes a plurality of laser data points;

associating laser data points of the plurality of laser data points with one or more objects in the environment;

determining given laser data points of the plurality of laser data points that are unassociated with the one or more objects in the environment as being representative of an untracked object; and

based on one or more untracked objects being determined, identifying an indication of a weather condition of the environment.

20. The system of claim 19, wherein the vehicle is travelling along a roadway, and the functions further comprise:

receiving radar data collected for the environment of the vehicle, wherein the radar data is indicative of a presence of one or more objects in the environment of the vehicle;

determining laser data points of the plurality of laser data points that are associated with the one or more objects in the environment indicated by the radar data; and

based on laser data points being unassociated with the one or more objects in the environment indicated by the radar data, identifying the indication of the weather condition of the environment.