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Google self-driving cars trailblaze into the desert for extreme testing

by Jacob Kleinman | April 7, 2016April 7, 2016 12:20 pm PST

Google’s self-driving car program is heading to Phoenix, Arizona for a new round of testing focused on the region’s desert conditions. The company told Reuters that the autonomous vehicles will be up against “extreme temperatures and dust in the air.”

The search giant already has four customized Lexus RX450h SUVs driving around Phoenix to create a new map of the city’s streets. The map will focus on detailed information, including the height of curbs, traffic signals, and lane markers. After that, the actual autonomous vehicles should be ready to hit the streets.

Phoenix will be the fourth city to host Google’s self-driving cars. The vehicles already roam in the company’s hometown of Mountain View. They’re also in Austin, Texas and Kirkland, Washington, where the program can experience a rainier environment.

Google’s run into some issues recently with its self-driving car program. One of the company’s autonomous vehicle got into a minor crash in Mountain View. However, the project also took a big step forward thanks to a recent federal ruling that designated the car’s computer as its legal driver.


Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...