A police officer demonstrates how to use a Taser. Photo: Paul Zinken/picture alliance/Getty Images

Ten years ago, Axon started using robots to assemble cartridges for its flagship product, the Taser. Automation helped the Arizona-based giant bring production back into the U.S. and boosted its output by four times.

The big picture: This is why factory automation is predicted to be worth nearly $370 billion worldwide by 2025, up from $191 billion in 2017. Robots build quickly and cheaply, and they don't make mistakes or get tired.

Since Axon began automating manufacturing in 2009, it has bought $18 million worth of automated equipment, the company tells Axios.

  • But as its output has grown, its workforce has, too — from 120 to 420 manufacturing personnel.
  • An Axon spokesperson tells Axios that automation is "not about replacing jobs — it's about using automation to free up our workforce to do different jobs." This is a common refrain among companies that don't want to be seen as unfeelingly replacing humans with robots.

Reality check: They can't replace people yet, even if they wanted to.

  • As we reported this week, robots aren't yet dextrous enough to handle delicate assembly, or flexible enough to deal with any uncertainty in the production line.
  • When robots are cheaper and more capable, you can bet that companies will start cutting staff.

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Trump casts himself as chief defender of American history in divisive speech at Rushmore

President Trump spoke out against a "merciless campaign" to wipe out American history during a Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore.

Why it matters: Trump's "dark and divisive" speech comes as states continue to hit new coronavirus records and a national reckoning against racial inequities pushes forward, The New York Times writes. Trump's public approval is faltering heading toward the November elections, and he made an appeal to his base at Friday's spectacle, per The Washington Post.

Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Drive-in movie theaters, the symbol of a bygone era before cellphones and constant distraction, are suddenly reemerging as a popular form of entertainment during the coronavirus crisis.

Why it matters: Indoor movie theaters are closed, but people still crave entertainment and a chance to get out of their houses. Watching a movie from the safety of a car is the next best thing.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 a.m. ET: 11,093,182 — Total deaths: 525,491 — Total recoveries — 5,890,052Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 a.m. ET: 2,795,163 — Total deaths: 129,437 — Total recoveries: 790,404 — Total tested: 34,213,497Map.
  3. States: ICU beds in Arizona's hot spot reach near capacity.
  4. Public health: The states where face coverings are mandatory Fauci says it has been a "very disturbing week" for the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.
  5. Economy: The economy may recover just quickly enough to kill political interest in more stimulus.