TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - As driverless cars become more popular, Waymo is using the East Valley as a testing ground for how well its cars operate next to animals like horses.
Waymo's driverless cars have been cruising Valley roads for three years now, yet the learning curve with this latest technology never stops.
"We really want to get to work with the community that we're currently cruising in," said Dezbah Ahathli, a manager for Waymo. "It's been really important."
Waymo's cars have been trained to avoid everything from pedestrians to pets, but what about the big pets that walk alongside the road? Waymo execs said they soon realized they needed to do some tests.
"It just makes perfect sense, especially here in Arizona, to start working with horses," Ahathli said.
To train its cars alongside large animals, Waymo turned to Blitz, a retired police horse with a decade worth of experience under pressure.
In Tempe, he was the test subject as Waymo's driverless van swerved, curved, and cruised past him.
For researchers who test the cars, every obstacle, every challenge must be considered. After all, there is no room for error on the road.
It is vital safety training in Tempe for the technology of tremendous potential.