Google expanding self-driving vehicle testing to Phoenix, AZ

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 10:16 AM

S. city to serve as a proving ground for the autonomous vehicles. The company'south Google unit has conducted driverless vehicle testing for six years in Mountain View, California, where it's based, and expanded testing to Austin, TX latest summer.

n">Alphabet Incorporated is expanding its testing of self-driving cars to the Phoenix, AZ metro area, the company said on Thursday, making it the fourth U. S. city to serve as a proving ground for the autonomous vehicles.

The company'south Google unit has conducted driverless vehicle testing for six years in Mountain View, California, where it's based, and expanded testing to Austin, TX latest summer. In February, Kirkland, Washington, which is residence to significant moist weather, was added as a testing site.

Major automakers, and technology companies led by Google, are racing to expand and sell vehicles that can drive themselves, but they've complained that safety rules are impeding testing and ultimate deployment of such vehicles.

Most of Google'south 1.5 million miles of autonomous vehicle testing has taken space in California. But it's publicly sparred with the state since December when CA proposed rules requiring a steering wheel, brake pedals and a licensed driver in all robot test vehicles on the road.

"AZ is known as a space where research and development is welcome, innovation can thrive, and companies can set up roots," said Jennifer Haroon, head of business operations for the Google Self-Driving Car project. "The Phoenix area has distinct desert conditions, which will assistance us better realize how our sensors and cars handle extreme temperatures and dust in the air."

Google said its test drivers recently began driving four Lexus RX450h SUVs around the Phoenix area to create a detailed map of streets, lane markers, traffic signals and curb heights.

A Google self-driving car struck a municipal bus in Mountain View in a minor crash on Feb. fourteen. Google has said it bears "some responsibility" for the incident, the first crash that appears to be fault of the self-driving vehicle. The company said it made changes to its software after the crash to avert future incidents.

The National Hwy Traffic Safety Administration said in Jan it's working on new guidance on self-driving vehicles to states and automakers that they hope to release by July. NHTSA will keep the first of two public hearings on the planned self-driving guidance on Friday in Washington.

In February, NHTSA said the artificial intelligence system piloting a self-driving Google car could be considered the driver below federal law, a major step toward winning approval for autonomous vehicles on the roads.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Tom Brown)

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