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Google Expands Autonomous Car Testing to Phoenix

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April 8, 2016—Google parent company Alphabet Inc. said Thursday it will expand testing of its autonomous vehicles to the Phoenix metro area. 

The Automotive News reported that Phoenix is the fourth U.S. city to be used as a proving ground for the autonomous testing—Austin, Texas; Kirkland, Wash.; and the company’s home base of Mountain View, Calif., being the other three. 

"Arizona is known as a place where research and development is welcome, innovation can thrive, and companies can set up roots," Jennifer Haroon, head of business operations for the Google Self-Driving Car project, said. "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."

In December, California proposed rules requiring a steering wheel, brake pedals, and a licensed driver in all autonomous vehicles on the road, which Google has publicly sparred with the state about.

In January, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it is working on guidance they hope to release in July for autonomous vehicle safety. The NHTSA said in February that under federal law, the artificial intelligence system in an autonomous car could be considered a driver.  

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