Google's Self-Driving Cars Will Explore the Desert Roads of Arizona

Image by Google
Image by Google

Google has announced that it’s expanding its self-driving car tests to Phoenix, Arizona, in order to test how the cars handle high temperatures and desert dust.


Reuters reports that four of Google’s Lexus RX450h SUVs have already been driving around the area to create a detailed prior map of street features—whether that’s traffic signals, road markings or notable curb-side landmarks. Its autonomous cars will use that map to help them navigate the city and its surroundings. The move means that Google is now testing its cars in: Mountain View, California; Austin, Texas; and Kirkland, Washington.

While driving in Arizona might sound easy, it could prove challenging for some of the hardware. Google’s cars use LIDAR to navigate with incredible accuracy, but the sensors can struggle when the air us full snow, sleet, rain—or dust. It’ll be interesting for Google to see how its existing technologies cope.

Google’s not the only auto maker looking for new challenges: Volvo today announced that is was taking its cars to China.


Contributing Editor at Gizmodo. An ex-engineer writing about science and technology.



LOL. You people talk like Phoenix and other desert cities are laden with dust in the air 24/7/365. The only time there is a lot of dust in the air is when it’s excessively windy, mostly in the afternoons during monsoon season (mid-July through late August). At times other than that, it’s some of the clearest air you’ll find anywhere.