Self-Driving Cars

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Chandler has become the first city in the state to test Google self-driving cars. There are four cars in the city now that will help map the area. Chandler mayor Jay Tibshraeny will talk about what this means for the city and Micah Miranda, the director of economic development for the city, will tell us more about how the cars work.

Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," we will hear about Google's self-driving cars now being tested in Chandler.

Ted Simons: Also tonight authoritarianism and a candidacy of Donald Trump.

Ted Simons: Those stories next on "Arizona Horizon."

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Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Leaders of the statehouse announced today they will allow reporters to cover proceedings from the house floor without undergoing background checks. Speaker of the House David Gowan announced screening would be required for reporters who wanted access to the house floor. Gowan cited security concerns. The new policy specifically targeted a reporter from the "Arizona Capitol Times" who wrote articles that exposed Gowan's improper use of state resources. Starting told the background checks are out. Mark Cardenas reacted to the reversal.

Ted Simons: Speaker Gowan admitted it was a mistake, realizing it's not about security, it's about a vendetta to the press, specifically one reporter that's reported him in an unflattering light. It's time to be the bigger person and finish off the session instead of trying to fight reporters and personal vendettas and retributions on people doing their job.

Ted Simons: Arizona would have been the only state in the country to require Capitol reporters to undergoing criminal background checks.

Ted Simons: Water started flowing in Tempe Town Lake today after the lake was emptied in February to allow completion of a dam system. It could take weeks to fill the lake which can now hold 900 million gallons of water, 100 million more than the old dam. Water activities are expected to resume by the end of the month.

Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of Arizona technology and innovation looks at how Chandler has become Arizona's first city to test Google self-driving cars. Here now with more is Chandler mayor Jay Tibshraeny and also joining us is Micah Miranda, Chandler's director of economic development. Good to have you both here. Thanks for joining us.

Jay Tibshraeny: Thanks for having us.

Ted Simons: Self-driving cars, what is going on out here?

Jay Tibshraeny: Well, Chandler is continuing to be an innovation and technology hub of the Southwest. But Google has this test program. They are testing this vehicle in Kirkland, Washington, in a suburb of San José, California, Austin, Texas, and they said we are going to try Arizona.

Ted Simons: Why Arizona? What's the reasoning?

Jay Tibshraeny: I am not sure. There's a lot of technology affiliated things that are happening in Arizona in the valley, in specific. I think the weather thing, maybe they wanted to see how that works with their technology. So they came out, they talked to a bunch of us mayors, four or five. And they picked Chandler to be the first city that will be involved with their testing program.

Ted Simons: Let's find out about this. Who exactly -- check that. How will the testing be done?

Micah Miranda: The testing will be done through drivers. First of all, Google is going to deploy their vehicles on to Chandler streets and they are going to drive Chandler streets and map it out. Part of Google's technology requires robust understanding of what the infrastructure looks like. That's what they are starting with is mapping the infrastructure.

Ted Simons: And did these drivers will be from Google, from the city? A little bit of both?

Micah Miranda: These drivers will all be Google employees and they will be behind the wheel of four Lexus SUVs.

Ted Simons: Once they get away from the wheel will they still be in the car in case the car gets a mind of its own?

Micah Miranda: They will still be in the car. They will be there after full testing and mapping is employees if intervening should be needed.

Ted Simons: Yes. And as far as the roads that will be used, outlying roads? City streets? Freeways?

Micah Miranda: All of the above.

Ted Simons: Really?

Micah Miranda: Yes. Yes.

Ted Simons: It's for both when the driver is behind the wheel and when the driver is next to the wheel?

Micah Miranda: They will be behind the wheel all the time.

Ted Simons: Oh, OK. So hands off. Unless something -- and it sounds to me doing research into this there haven't been any self-driving car accidents or mishaps, have there?

Jay Tibshraeny: Most accidents out there are human-driven. 94% and that's not the self-driving car. I think there was one fender Bender in San Francisco. But the technology is so unique that it's going to, I think it's going to be very successful. And they won't be reading the newspaper or on their phone, texting while they are driving. Because it's driverless. But it's safe now. It's testing right now. People say, Jay, what's going to happen? That's why you have the person in the car in case there's a problem. But they will be on all our streets all over. The highway, the residential streets, they are ready. We have seen the videos of the technology. It's pretty spectacular.

Ted Simons: We have the video right now of the vehicles. Because I was curious what they look like. We found Google sent us a little example here. And these, it's basically rooks like a regular vehicle with a hat.

Jay Tibshraeny: It's a Lexus or it's an SUV of some sort. But with lasers and different type of technology and cameras. So it's a regular looking vehicle except it says Google on it. You will know the Google vehicles. They are in town right now mapping as we speak.

Ted Simons: When you say mapping now, they're lasers and other things that depend on those maps. Correct?

Micah Miranda: Correct. Part of the technology as we understand it from Google is, they will have like the mayor said, radar. They will have GPS. They will have laser sensors that track its position relative to other things in their environment. So the technology they have allows 360 degree views to be processed by the computer software. So they really understand where they are at.

Ted Simons: And it sounds like it's GPS on steroids. This is a lot more accurate than GPS.

Micah Miranda: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Ted Simons: As far as Chandler is concerned, why is this good for the city? Why was this a good thing?

Jay Tibshraeny: This further cements our reputation for technology. I mean, we obviously have Intel but General Motors located one of their four-only innovation hubs in Chandler. And so they have one in Austin, Texas, too, which coincidentally is also doing the Google project in Austin, Texas. We have a lot of technology-based companies and industries. I think they looked and said, Chandler is a natural fit to try this next generation of technology. That's what this is. You know, in about 10 years from now, who knows how this is going to play out. But already General Motors, Mercedes Benz are experimenting with these vehicles. Google then sell themselves have driven these driverless cars in their test cities over a million and a half miles.

Ted Simons: Just looked at my notes here. And 16 times these vehicles have been hit by other cars, really only one accident, it seems as though that the Google car could possibly be -- I mean, the concept of accidents may be a foreign concept in coming years. Correct?

Micah Miranda: That's what they are working towards. Obviously, if we suffer from traffic accidents. That's part of Google's initiative here is to cut down on the number of traffic deaths while also being able to provide transportation mobility to those who may not have it due to disabilities.

Ted Simons: Will they be driving? It sounds like they will be driving with a little extra caution? A little extra courtesy? Something we are not really used to on Arizona streets. But I mean, will that disrupt the flow of traffic do you think?

Micah Miranda: You know, part of the technology that they have deployed is to mimic human driving. So some of the things that we take for granted is driving on regular streets is inching forward to make right-hand turns. Through their testing and history, they have discovered that this causes anxiety on roadways. They are teaching the vehicles to be smarter to act more like a driver while at the same time maintaining all the safety necessary.

Ted Simons: I think one of the reasons why people inch forward at red lights, they don't want to turn right. They want to see. They don't need to see now.

Micah Miranda: Exactly.

Ted Simons: The car sees. OK. A boon for Chandler. What does it translate to jobs? What can you see out there?

Jay Tibshraeny: I don't know that this particular project translates to jobs. But the marketing and the exposure it gives Chandler worldwide being one of these test cities is really immeasurable. We will utilize it in our marketing efforts as we go out and try to attract industry. We are dealing with high tech companies and industry every day. So this just helps cement our reputation. And it kind of, it's a synergy. The more the marrier and the more that come the more you get behind them. We look at Google kind of naturally fitting into our efforts to attract industry and to further cementing Chandler being innovation and technology hub of the Southwest. That's why when we go up against Austin, Texas, we know we are in pretty good company because that's who we compete against a lot for jobs. We have Google today but the jobs will follow tomorrow.

Ted Simons: And as far as the testing, when did it start?

Micah Miranda: Testing started about last week.

Ted Simons: OK. How long will it go?

Micah Miranda: It will go for an indefinite period of time, until they fully understand how the sensors react in our desert environment.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, wouldn't you want this thing to be rolling around the streets late June when it's 120 degrees? And also maybe in late July when you got dust storms. I mean, do they know how they work in dust storms?

Micah Miranda: That's what they are here to find out.

Ted Simons: Yeah. All right. So last question. You mentioned technology hub and we have had you on the show many times. And you are very proud of the technology. How are things going?

Jay Tibshraeny: They are going really good. Chandler continues to lead the way in attracting jobs and attracting industry. And so we will continue on those efforts. We work really hard at it. And I think we have created a good environment in Chandler for companies to locate. And the whole valley really is very dynamic right now. We just need to stay the course and I think the opportunities will continue to come our way. We are going to have a community forum on this particular car with a sample car. They are hopefully so that will be open to the public and the media. We will have to arrange that date once Google is comfortable with having it to announce, OK, we are proceeding on the next phase of this.

Ted Simons: All right. Until then if you see a car with hat don't worry. It's taking care of itself just fine even if -- there will be someone behind the wheel. That's probably a little alarming if you are driving by and seeing no one behind the wheel.

Micah Miranda: There will be somebody behind the wheel.

Ted Simons: Even if they are going like this. OK. Good to have you both here. Thank you for joining us.

Micah Miranda: Thank you for having us.

Jay Tibshraeny: Chandler Mayor, Micah Miranda: director of economic development for the Chandler

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