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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.

Reports: CIA finds "Havana Syndrome" unlikely caused by foreign campaign

CIA Director William Burns testifies during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill last April. Photo: Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

A preliminary CIA report rules out a foreign global campaign as the cause of American and Canadian diplomats affected by a mysterious illness known as "Havana syndrome," per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Some lawmakers had suggested the sometimes debilitating illness was due to directed energy attacks. But CIA officials told the New York Times that most of the 1,000 cases reported to the government could be "explained by environmental causes, undiagnosed medical conditions or stress." This finding has angered some victims, per the NYT.

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 2 far-right "America First" activists

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot, from left; Reps. Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas Wednesday for far-right leaders Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, who allegedly encouraged followers to go to D.C. and challenge the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: The action underscores the panel's increasing focus on rallies held ahead of the Capitol attack and how extremists were drawn to former President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, per the New York Times.