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A Chevy Bolt equipped with self-driving technology cruises the streets of San Francisco.  Helena Price Photography

GM’s Cruise Automation Is Testing Self-Driving Chevy Bolts in Arizona

Aug 09, 2016

Cruise Automation, the startup acquired earlier this year by General Motors (gm), has expanded testing of self-driving car technology to Scottsdale, Ariz. And they're hiring test drivers.

The startup, which has been testing autonomous technology on the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV in San Francisco since at least May, made the announcement via Twitter. (The all-electric Chevy Bolt isn’t expected to go into production until October.)

The company also has a job listing for an automated vehicle trainer in Scottsdale, a position it says will help "test and improve the performance of our driverless cars."

See also: GM Comes Clean About Testing Self-Driving Tech on the New Chevy Bolt EV

Fortune has reported before that Cruise Automation had opened facilities in Phoenix, but GM never provided details about why it was there and what its plans were. The greater Phoenix area, which Scottsdale is a part of, has become one of the hottest new hubs for testing and developing self-driving cars. Google is currently testing its self-driving car in the area, and several auto-related startups, including Local Motors, are either based there, or have a major presence in the region.

Phoenix might seem like an unlikely hotspot for self-driving cars. However, the low cost of operating in the state, the steady influx of talent from local universities, and the state government's support for testing these cars on its roads have helped attract companies. In 2015, Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order supporting the testing and operation of automated vehicles on public roads and authorizing university pilot programs.

See also: Another Electric Car Factory Is Coming to China

The distinct desert conditions can also help automakers and tech companies test how sensors on the self-driving cars would handle extreme temperatures and dust.

GM has worked on autonomous vehicle tech for years. However, the company's autonomous research team has traditionally kept a low profile, at least publicly. That all changed in the past year, as GM began announcing new initiatives—sometimes several a month—that highlight its interest in self-driving cars and unconventional transportation options popularized by a new wave of startups, including a partnership and $500 million investment in ride-hailing startup Lyft. That same month, GM created an engineering team dedicated to autonomous driving.

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All of that activity was eclipsed by GM's purchase of San Francisco startup Cruise Automation for more than $1 billion—a price that Fortune originally reported and sticks by, even in light of comments made by GM chief financial officer Chuck Stevens during an earnings call in July.

Cruise Automation, which had about 40 employees back in March, has ramped up its activity and hiring since it was acquired by GM.

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