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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

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (L) and Sen. Joe Manchin (R) at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13, 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.

4 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.