Feb 13, 2017

Lawmakers eye self-driving cars

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Washington lawmakers are getting the ball rolling on promised efforts to hasten the rollout of self-driving cars.

  • Senate: Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune and Democrat Gary Peters said Monday they hope to release a bill together by the end of the year on self-driving vehicles. "Left on its own, the slow pace of regulation could become a significant obstacle to the development" of self-driving cars, the two said in a statement; of particular interest is "ways to improve regulatory flexibility for testing and development of self-driving vehicles without changes to regulations that would affect conventional autos."
  • House: Tuesday hearing will focus on on the deployment of autonomous vehicles. Republican lawmakers have indicated that they want to take hands-off approach. "You don't want to have the government say this is what the design is going to be," said Ohio Rep. Bob Latta, who chairs the subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that will host the hearing. "The private sector can come up with the designs."

The context: Silicon Valley and Detroit aren't slowing down when it comes to getting self-driving cars — and trucks — on the road. Regulators have started to grapple with the issues, and many companies want the federal government to help them avoid a patchwork of state laws that would make it hard for the market to grow.

What we're watching: How lawmakers address the potential impact of autonomous vehicles on employment, which very much remains an open question.

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China tries to contain coronavirus, as Apple warns of earnings impact

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

As China pushes to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus — placing around 780 million people under travel restrictions, per CNN — the economic repercussions continue to be felt globally as companies like Apple warn of the impact from the lack of manufacturing and consumer demand in China.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,775 people and infected more than 70,000 others, mostly in mainland China. There are some signs that new cases are growing at a slower rate now, although the World Health Organization said Monday it's "too early to tell" if this will continue.

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Apple will miss quarterly earnings estimates due to coronavirus

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple issued a rare earnings warning on Monday, saying it would not meet quarterly revenue expectations due to the impact of the coronavirus, which will limit iPhone production and limit product demand in China.

Why it matters: Lots of companies rely on China for production, but unlike most U.S. tech companies, Apple also gets a significant chunk of its revenue from sales in China.

America's dwindling executions

The Trump administration wants to reboot federal executions, pointing to a 16-year lapse, but Pew Research reports the government has only executed three people since 1963.

The big picture: Nearly all executions in the U.S. are done by states. Even those have been steadily dropping for two decades, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — marking a downward trend for all executions in the country.