Updated Mar 15, 2018

3M's autonomous vehicle ambitions

3M headquarters in St. Paul, Minn. Photo: Mike Bradley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The company best known for making Post-It notes and Scotch Tape sees its next big opportunity in driverless cars. 3M CEO Inge Thulin told Axios in a recent interview that "automotive electrification" is a $6 billion market that will be a "big, big deal for us."

Why it matters: The chip and sensor makers that allow driverless cars to "see" often get most of the attention. But 3M is trying to leverage its history of making license plates, pavement marking, and traffic signs to be a major player in the autonomous vehicle market.

The reality is there will not be only cars running around by themselves. There needs to be traffic safety around it, and that's what we've been doing for a long, long, long time.
— 3M CEO Inge Thulin

The components: 3M says its "transportation future" work is in 3 core areas.

  • Electronics — 3M has long made the lesser known electronic components for big automakers. "Car companies now really care about that, whereas 10 years ago they really didn't," 3M vice president Ray Eby said.
  • Materials — For example, Eby said it's been working on:
    • A liquid that conducts heat out of lithium ion batteries to cool them down, which some car companies are beginning to test.
    • Specialized film for sensors that filters out signal interference.
    • Material that deflects snow, rain and mud from street signs so they can remain visible to cars' sensors.
    • Light-managing film for windshield or LCD dashboard displays — which need to be 3 times brighter than flat-screen TVs due to the ambient light but controlled so that they don't reflect off the other glass in the car.
  • Infrastructure — 3M creates pavement markings that are specifically designed to stand out from surrounding areas so sensors can see it in all conditions.
    • It also works closely with transportation systems around the world, so it already has strong relationships with regulators and urban planners that are designing the roads of the future.

Yes, but: 3M has a lot of lines of business, from health care to energy to manufacturing. Transportation is only one market, and not one that the company is particularly well known for. Thulin is also stepping down from the CEO role this summer to become executive chairman of the board, and it's unclear if incoming CEO Michael Roman will keep the same strategic priorities.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 664,695 — Total deaths: 30,847 — Total recoveries: 140,156.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 124,464 — Total deaths: 2,191 — Total recoveries: 1,095.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per the CDC, residents of those states must now "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
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Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 30,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 30,000 people around the world — with Italy reporting over 10,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 124,000 by late Saturday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

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Trump rules out quarantine in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut after pushback

President Trump on the White House grounds on Saturdya. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Saturday night that he's decided not to introduce quarantine enforcement measures fo New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut, but a "strong" travel advisory will be issued for those states. The CDC later announced domestic travel restrictions for the states.

Why it matters: Trump said hours earlier he was considering quarantine measures to combat the rise in novel coronavirus cases. But he received pushback, notably from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who told CNN such a measure would cause "chaos." "This would be a federal declaration of war on states," Cuomo added.

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