Phoenix Next Test Site for Google Self-Driving Cars

April 27, 2016

Earlier this month Google announced that it will be testing its autonomous vehicles in Phoenix, Ariz. The California-based tech company has already tested its self-driving vehicles in California, Washington and Texas.

Varying road conditions, traffic patterns and driving environment were some of the reasons cited by the company for choosing the Valley of the Sun.

Google self-driving Lexus RX450h. Photo: Google
Google self-driving Lexus RX450h. Photo: Google

“Metro Phoenix is an ideal place to expand testing,” said Jennifer Haroon, head of business operations for the Google Self-Driving Car project. “Arizona is known as a place where research and development is welcome, innovation can thrive, and companies can set up roots. The Phoenix area has distinct desert conditions, which will help us better understand how our sensors and cars handle extreme temperatures and dust in the air. Driving in new cities enables our engineers to further refine our software and adapt to these different environments.”

Google boasts its self-driving cars have already covered 1.5 million miles. In Phoenix, four driver-equipped Lexus RX450h SUVs have already begun mapping streets. The mapping process includes identifying where traffic signals, lane markers and curb heights are located. Once completed, the autonomous cars will begin navigating the southwest city’s roadways.

Sensors on the vehicles can detect a variety of objects, such as a bicyclist or crossing guard, and respond accordingly.

“Google’s selection of Arizona for this testing program is just another sign that Arizona is on the cutting-edge when it comes to innovation,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “When you think of companies changing the way we live, Google is at the top of the list, and their self-driving car technology is transformational. We welcome them to our state, and look forward to being part of this innovative project.”

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