Stories by Rob Toews

Expert Voices

How AV companies are picking their U.S. launch markets

GM Cruise test self-driving vehicle driving through an intersection
A GM Cruise test vehicle in San Francisco. Photo: Andrej Sokolow/picture alliance via Getty Images

As autonomous vehicle companies plan for commercial robotaxi deployments, they're weighing everything from city layout to weather in selecting launch markets.

Why it matters: Robotaxis will not be available everywhere at the same time. AV companies must choose cities to start with — a critical business decision that will determine which populations are first exposed to this technology and how it further develops.

Expert Voices

The spillover benefits of AV technology could be wide-ranging

scientist sitting next to a lidar-equipped drone outdoors in Antarctica
A researcher taking lidar measurements for 3D maps of Antarctica's Horseshoe Island. Photo: Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The effort to commercialize fully autonomous vehicles has spawned an array of supporting hardware and software technologies whose impact could extend well beyond AVs.

The big picture: Fierce competition during the mobile computing boom led to better, cheaper components — cameras, batteries, wireless chips — that in turn transformed technologies from satellites to drones. A similar process could play out with AVs, as the billions of investment dollars pouring into the sector enable advances that spill over into retail, health care and other parts of the economy.

Expert Voices

Startups pivot to AVs for farming, shipping and more

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Despite the greater hype around fully self-driving cars, a growing number of companies are developing AV technology for industries like agriculture, construction, mining and maritime shipping.

Why it matters: Many of these sectors use human-operated vehicles in structured, repetitive, non-public environments: Think tractors driving down rows of crops or pickups shuttling materials across a construction site. Applying AV technology in such constrained settings could offer a more straightforward path to market — and an equally compelling business case.