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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

By year's end, anyone in metro Phoenix (not just a handful of early participants) will be able to summon an autonomous vehicle from Waymo using an app on their phone. The nation’s first commercial robo-taxi service will be limited to certain areas, but the territory will gradually expand as the cars get even smarter with experience.

Why it matters: Waymo is by far the leader in autonomous vehicle technology, racking up 10 million miles of real-world driving and 5 billion simulated miles. But it’s still up to the public to decide if they want self-driving cars. Waymo’s robo-taxi service will be an early test of that question.

What we’re watching: It’s unlikely we’ll see any movement on federal legislation around AVs this year, unless Congress decides to tackle it during a lame duck session after the November election, which means companies will continue to focus their development efforts in states with the most favorable laws.

Go deeper with Axios Future Trends:

Sign up for my weekly newsletter on autonomous vehicles here.

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9 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

11 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.