‘Extreme temperatures and dust’ may not be the most flattering description of Phoenix, Arizona, but it’s the reason Google cites for naming the city as its fourth testing ground for its fleet of self-driving cars.

Reuters reports that Google is currently using four Lexus RX450h SUVs to create the detailed map of “streets, lane markers, traffic signals and curb heights” needed to allow the self-driving cars to operate.

‘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,’ said the project’s head of business operations Jennifer Haroon.

There is, though, a second – and more flattering – reason for the choice …

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Arizona is known as a place where research and development is welcome, innovation can thrive, and companies can set up roots.

This comment may be a veiled barb at Google’s home state of California, whose DMV last year proposed to outlaw the company’s plans to make autonomous cars without manual driving controls.

Recent hires by Google suggest that the company is already looking at how best to approach mass production of the cars.

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