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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Weather-related natural disasters are on the rise, and AVs could become powerful tools for activating response systems and for collecting and sharing data, news and warnings.

Why it matters: Connected AVs could contribute to new emergency response networks by disseminating critical information, routing people away from disasters and possibly even dispatching emergency AVs on optimized routes.

Background: Fully autonomous vehicles will need to do advanced computing onboard to synthesize sensor data, run self-driving software, and communicate with other vehicles, objects and systems in real time. That technology could potentially collect and transmit data on driving conditions and disaster reporting as well.

Where it stands: Early iterations of these systems exist, but typically run on smartphones or other connected devices brought into the car to supplement current vehicle capabilities. Eventually, this technology could be embedded directly in AVs, making it possible for autonomous vehicles to respond immediately to events.

  • Metro21: Smart Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University has used dashboard mounted smartphones to collect and assess images of hillsides to track and anticipate landslides. This technology could be used to predict landslides and route vehicles around them.
  • Israel's United Hatzalah has developed technology that alerts emergency responders within a certain radius and optimizes ambulance routes. It was used during the Gorkha earthquake in Nepal and Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.
  • The Wyoming Connected Vehicle Pilot project uses vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity run on mobile devices to broadcast storm alerts and road conditions on I-90.
  • Waze has partnered with a software company to develop a real-time crash alert system and with the Israeli city of Ramat Gan to facilitate safer evacuations during earthquakes. After a highway bridge collapse in Atlanta, Georgia, Waze leveraged their mobile app to provide updates to local users.

The bottom line: Some of the benefits of this technology could be available in the near term in connected cars, but autonomous vehicles could ultimately offer optimized responsiveness and passenger safety during storms and natural disasters.

Karen Lightman is executive director of Metro21: Smart Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

Go deeper

60 mins ago - World

Barbados becomes a republic, replacing U.K. queen with president

Combination images of Dame Sandra Mason, president of Barbados, and Britain's Prince Charles at her swearing-in ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados, late Monday.

Barbados officially became a republic at midnight local time after Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the Caribbean nation's first president in a ceremony attended by the United Kingdom's Prince Charles.

Why it matters: Mason replaced Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state Tuesday — removing the country's final remaining colonial tie to the U.K. almost 400 years after the first British ships arrived in Barbados.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.