Self-driving lab head urges freeze after "nightmare" fatality
Carmakers and technology companies should freeze their race to field autonomous vehicles because "clearly the technology is not where it needs to be," said Raj Rajkumar, head of Carnegie Mellon University's leading self-driving laboratory.
What he said: Speaking a few hours after a self-driven vehicle ran over and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, Rajkumar said, "This isn't like a bug with your phone. People can get killed. Companies need to take a deep breath. The technology is not there yet. We need to keep people in the loop."
Why it matters: Virtually every major car company on the planet, in addition to numerous startups and tech companies, are doing live testing of self-driving vehicles — and pushing policy officials to allow them to do so.
But Rajkumar said that ordinary people in addition to automakers and tech companies have developed far too much trust in self-driving technology simply because the cars have driven hundreds of thousands of miles with only one fatality before this — a Tesla driver who slammed into the side of a truck last year.
Here's where the big redistricting court fights stand
Redistricting battles in key states are playing out in the U.S. Supreme Court and various federal courts that involve partisan and racial gerrymandering, stemming from voting maps drawn after the 2010 census.
Why it matters: Both Democrats and Republicans have legally designed maps to gain electoral advantages and capture majorities. But these cases could alter how lines are redrawn, and implement a concrete legal standard to determine when redistricting is infected with political bias and discriminate against voters of color.
As the 2020 census count looms — which lawmakers use to draw proportional electoral district lines every ten years — these cases could affect the next round of redistricting and upend the control of Congress and state legislatures over the next decade.
The latest: The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case this spring.
- The backdrop: Wisconsin Republicans appealed a lower-court ruling that struck down the legislative map drawn in 2011 citing that it was unconstitutional because it's heavily skewed in their favor. The court later ordered the state to draw a new map by Nov. 2017, a request the U.S. Supreme Court blocked when it agreed to hear the case last year.
- Why it matters: If the justices uphold a lower court ruling challenging the State Assembly Districts, this would be the first time the Supreme Court strikes down a voting map on the grounds of partisan gerrymandering.
The latest: The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a partisan gerrymandering case on March 28. A decision is expected by June.
- The backdrop: The case centers on the 6th congressional district, which was redrawn in 2011 to include parts of the heavily Democratic Montgomery County. While Republican voters argue that the Democratic-controlled legislature is unfairly drawn, three judges ruled against the plaintiffs' request to discontinue the use of the current map ahead of the 2018 midterm election.
- Why it matters: This is the only redistricting legal battle filed against Democrats. Republicans there said the current map has diluted their votes and cost an incumbent his seat.
The latest: The U.S. Supreme Court agreed last month to hear a racially-charged gerrymandering case sometime this spring, with a decision likely by June.
- The backdrop: Two congressional and eight state legislative districts were ruled unconstitutional racial gerrymanders after a court said they violated the Voting Rights Act because lawmakers intentionally designed them to dilute the political power of minority voters who favor Democrats. Last year, the Supreme Court blocked a redrawing order for new maps ahead of this year's midterm as they consider an appeal from the state.
- Why it matters: This is a short-term victory for Republicans who appealed a lower court ruling that ordered them to draw new maps to remedy the alleged infractions ahead of this year's midterm election.
The latest: A federal court on Monday struck down a move to block a new congressional map issued by the state's high court. The ruling comes amid concerns by federal and state Republicans that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overstepped its authority when issuing a new congressional map last month. They wanted the court to halt it.
The backdrop: The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Republican's request last month to block the ordering of a new map, after state‘s high court gave lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf (D) more than three weeks to agree on one, which they failed to do. In the meantime, Republicans have been considering impeaching the Supreme Court justices who struck down the gerrymandered map. Republicans had filed another challenge urging U.S. Supreme Court to halt the map. That decision is still pending.
- Why it matters: Early analysis of the new congressional map said elections will be more competitive and it would likely put several Republican-held seats in play for Democrats. Democrats who are hoping to defeat Republican incumbents in this year’s midterm elections and take control of the House.
The latest: The U.S. Supreme Court last month issued a temporary hold on ordering the state legislature to redraw its excessively partisan congressional map.
- Why it matters: This is a short-term victory for Republicans who hold 10 of the 13 U.S. House seats there. The high court did not say when the case would be resolved, but constitutional law expert and University of Richmond law professor, Carl Tobias, told Axios that the ruling issued in the Wisconsin case could be use to determine the North Carolina challenge after an appealed is filed.
The latest: The Virginia Supreme Court is reviewing a racially-charged case regarding the 2011 redrawing of the states' House of Delegates district lines.
- The backdrop: The U.S. Supreme Court told the lower court in March of last year that it must be reexamined for racial bias.
- Why it matters: The case centers on concerns that the map, drawn by Virginia's Republican-led legislature, had deliberately packed black voters together to limit their influence so surrounding districts could be more winnable for GOP lawmakers.
The latest: A federal court will hear oral arguments on March 20 that seek to toss out the current legislative and congressional maps crafted by state Republicans.
- The backdrop: Filed last December, the challenge came days after a Michigan citizen-led group submitted more than 425,000 signatures for a 2018 redistricting ballot reform initiative that would change how electoral districts are drawn. The petition signatures are under review.
- Why it matters: The suit wants new electoral lines if the legislature does not pass a constitutional redistricting plan that would mandate an independent commission to draw a new map.