May 10, 2019

GM's autonomous vehicles boss meets Wall Street

An autonomous car from Cruise Automation, GM's self-driving affiliate, in 2018. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Mandi Damman, chief engineer of autonomous vehicles at GM, fought off comparisons to Tesla while sharing an update on the company's AV progress with investors Thursday at Citi's 2019 Car of the Future Symposium.

Why it matters: Damman was peppered with investor questions trying to gauge GM's progress against Tesla, which last month claimed a huge technological advantage from its newly introduced AV computer chip and data collected from 425,000 AutoPilot-equipped vehicles already on the road.

Details: Damman stuck to GM's mantra. Cruise Automation, its self-driving affiliate, won't deploy driverless taxis until it is sure they are safe. (The company has been targeting the end of this year and has yet to stray from that timetable.) Here's what else she had to say...

On regulation: GM aims to help shape government policy on AVs.

  • GM is first to seek government approval to put a driverless car — without a steering wheel or pedals — on public roads. The public comment period on that request is winding down this month.
  • "Out of this process I believe we will see future regulations on AVs."

On potential backlash from high-profile accidents involving AV prototypes:

  • "It's certainly real. That's why we're extra cautious. That's why we have our AV trainers active in the cars. ... It shows how seriously we take safety until we're 100% sure we can take them out."

On Tesla drivers spotted sleeping at 80 miles per hour:

  • "We focus heavily on our technology, which is much different."
  • GM will not test its technology on customers or pull its AV trainers, "because frankly, it's not there yet."

On when Cruise will be ready: "Nobody's ever done this before. It's difficult to predict when we will have every edge case solved and are 100% sure we can pull the driver."

Go deeper: GM CEO Mary Barra calls Tesla "capable" competition

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China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown

People wearing facemasks stand near Yangtze River in Wuhan. Photo: HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

China has lifted its lockdown of Wuhan, the city in Hubei province where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in December, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: As cases surged in January, China took the draconian step of sealing off the city of 11 million and shutting down its economy — a response that was viewed at the time as only possible in an authoritarian system, but which has since been adopted by governments around the world.

Go deeperArrow11 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 1,381,014— Total deaths: 78,269 — Total recoveries: 292,973Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 378,289 — Total deaths: 11,830 — Total recoveries: 20,003Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill
  4. Federal government latest: Senate looks to increase coronavirus relief for small businesses this week — Testing capacity is still lagging far behind demand.
  5. States update: New York death toll surged to its highest one-day total as state predicts a plateau in hospitalizations.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The race to reopen America
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill

Glenn Fine, acting Pentagon watchdog

President Trump on Monday replaced the Pentagon's acting Inspector General Glenn Fine, who had been selected to chair the panel overseeing the rollout of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed last month, Politico first reported.

Why it matters: A group of independent federal watchdogs selected Fine to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, but Fine's removal from his Pentagon job prevents him from being able to serve in that position — since the law only allows sitting inspectors general to fill the role.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy