Photo courtesy of Nuro.

One of the expected benefits of autonomous vehicles is improving access to transportation for underserved populations.

Why it matters: Transportation is often too expensive, inconvenient or even non-existent in poor communities.

Driving the news: Two pieces of research were shared this week by organizations hoping to prod the federal government on regulatory action governing self-driving cars.

AV delivery company Nuro, writing in a company blog, found that its delivery vehicles could reach 14 million, or 70%, of low-income households in "food deserts" who can't get to grocery stores on their own.

  • Doing so would require the Transportation Department to modernize its regulations to allow driverless vehicles like Nuro's to operate above 25 miles per hour.

Meanwhile, transportation policy experts at Securing America's Future Energy, a lobby group, found poor families using on-demand, automated vehicles could save as much as $5,600 per household, and have access to better jobs.

The bottom line: Access to reliable, affordable transit is a key factor in upward social mobility.

Go deeper

California moves to phase out new gasoline-powered cars

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is issuing an executive order that seeks to eliminate sales of new gasoline-powered cars in his state by 2035, a move the White House said President Trump "won't stand for."

Why it matters: California is the largest auto market in the U.S., and transportation is the biggest source of carbon emissions in the state and nationwide.

Supreme Court rejects GOP push to cut absentee ballot deadline in N.C.

Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an attempt by conservatives to shorten North Carolina's deadline for mail-in ballots from nine to three days.

The big picture: This is the latest of a series of decisions over mail-in ballot deadlines in various states.

Hurricane Zeta makes landfall on Louisiana coast as Category 2 storm

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Hurricane Zeta made landfall along the southeastern coast of Louisiana as a Category 2 storm on Wednesday, bringing with it "life-threatening storm surge and strong winds," per the National Hurricane Center.

What's happening: The hurricane was producing maximum sustained winds of nearly 110 mph and stronger gusts.