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Lyft teams up with nuTonomy to work on self-driving cars

While Uber is still entangled in court with Waymo, rival Lyft has inked a partnership with startup nuTonomy to further its own autonomous driving efforts, the companies announced on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber have made bold statements about their futures are purveyors of self-driving-car rides. To make good on those statements, Lyft is inking new partnerships to develop the technology and software it'll need. Lyft already has a partnership with General Motors, although GM says it's not affected by the nuTonomy alliance.

The deal: The companies' work together will be focused on the passenger experience when hailing and riding in self-driving cars. After initially integrating nuTonomy's software and cars into Lyft's apps and service, the companies will deploy a pilot program in Boston, where nuTonomy is based, in the coming months. The test program will use Renault Zoe cars, just as with nuTonomy's other programs in Singapore and Boston, and a version of Lyft's app will be displayed on a console inside the cars.

The companies declined to comment on the number of cars the test program will initially include, though nuTonomy co-founder and CEO Karl Iagnemma said that his company wants "to end up with many thousands of nuTonomy vehicles on the Lyft platform in the future."

Who is nuTonomy: Founded in 2013 by MIT's Iagnemma and Emilio Frazzoli, nuTonomy is developing self-driving car software. The company began testing self-driving cars last year in Boston and Singapore (the latter in partnership with ride-hailing company Grab). To date, it has raised nearly $24 million in funding from Fontinalis Partners, Trucks Venture Capital, Highland Capital Partners, Signal Ventures, Bill Ford, and the government of Singapore, among others.

What about GM? In January 2016, General Motors announced a $500 million investment into Lyft and a partnership for the companies to work on self-driving cars togethers. "The announced partnership between nuTonomy and Lyft does not affect our existing business relationship with Lyft," a GM spokesperson told Axios via email. "Our plan remains steadfast — we are on track to launch our self-driving technology first in a ride-sharing application," but declined to provide timing details for rolling out a test program with Lyft.

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The worst flu season in eight years

Note: Activity levels are based on outpatient visits in a state compared to the average number of visits that occur during weeks with little or no flu virus circulation; Data: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

This year's flu season caught many experts off guard with both its sustained prevalence and its virulence. At its peak, there was a higher level of flu-like illnesses reported than any other year during the past eight years. Watch in the visual as it hits its peak around Week 18.

Why it matters: Public health officials try to capture this data when developing the next year's vaccines. And, of course, they want to find better ways to prevent severe flu seasons. There's a "Strategic Plan" to develop a universal vaccine to protect against a wider range of influenza viruses, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells Axios.

Haley Britzky 7 hours ago
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Zuckerberg happy to testify if it is "the right thing to do”

A portrait of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
A portrait of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Jaap Arriens / NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he would be "happy" to testify before Congress if it was "the right thing to do," in an interview with CNN's Laurie Segall.

Why it matters: Facebook has been under the microscope lately for what Zuckerberg called earlier today the "Cambridge Analytica situation." Zuckerberg said if he was the "person...who will have the most knowledge," then he'd be the one to testify in the face of Facebook's data-collection situation.