Google to test self-driving cars in Phoenix area

AP News
|
Posted: Apr 07, 2016 3:39 PM

CHANDLER, Ariz. (AP) — Google is bringing its self-driving vehicles to Phoenix to see how the SUVs perform in Arizona's sweltering summer.

Four of Google's self-driving vehicles are being driven around Phoenix this week, mapping portions of the metro area ahead of letting the cars loose. Google officials say they will begin having the cars drive in Chandler.

"I'm honored that Google selected Chandler as the first city in Arizona to continue testing its self-driving cars project," said Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny in a statement. "Google is a perfect fit; adding to our growing list of technology companies doing business in Chandler. This decision by Google cements our reputation as the premiere innovation and technology hub of the Southwest."

Google officials say they hope to see how the cars work in high temperatures and in the massive dust storms that occasionally occur in the summer.

"Also, in some communities, there are golf cart crossings, I understand," said Jennifer Haroon, head of business operations for the Google Self-Driving Car project.

Tibshraeny said the city first talked to Google a little over two weeks ago, and within 10 days they were notified that the cars were coming to town.

So far Google has 54 vehicles driving themselves, with Google workers as passengers, in Mountain View, California, — where Google is based — Austin, Texas, and Kirkland, Washington.

The self-driving cars are easy to spot by their extra equipment on the roof and their extra courteous manner of driving.

Haroon said Arizona has provided a good environment for self-driving vehicle research. On March 9, Gov. Doug Ducey announced the creation of a Self-Driving Oversight Committee to advise the Department of Transportation, the Department of Public Safety, universities and other public agencies on how to advance self-driving vehicles on public roads.