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Photo: Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Microsoft is joining GM, Honda and others in a $2 billion investment round in Cruise to help commercialize its self-driving cars. The deal bumps Cruise's valuation to $30 billion, from $19 billion last year.

Why it matters: The investment is part of a broader commitment by GM and Cruise to use Microsoft's Azure cloud-computing platform across their companies, especially as they roll out increasingly complex vehicles that rely on digital technologies.

The big picture: Self-driving vehicles devour massive amounts of data to operate safely.

  • They collect and process data from cameras, radar and lidar sensors for perception, location mapping and decision-making.
  • Commercialization requires even more data to optimize routes and to create consumer-facing apps and websites.

What they're saying: “Microsoft, as the gold standard in the trustworthy democratization of technology, will be a force multiplier for us as we commercialize our fleet of self-driving, all-electric, shared vehicles," said Cruise CEO Dan Ammann.

  • "Advances in digital technology are redefining every aspect of our work and life, including how we move people and goods,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “As Cruise and GM's preferred cloud, we will apply the power of Azure to help them scale and make autonomous transportation mainstream.”

Go deeper: Cloud-based cars powered by 5G and new computers are on the way

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Economy & Business

Transportation's next big thing: flying taxis

Photo: Joby Aviation

The next big thing in transportation could be electric flying taxis — think of a drone crossed with a helicopter — that would ferry people and goods high above congested roadways.

Why it matters: Air taxis are billed as a cheaper, faster, cleaner mode of transportation, and an important link between remote areas and population centers. But there are still technical and regulatory challenges to overcome — not to mention public skepticism.

23 mins ago - Health

Supply isn't our only COVID treatment problem

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Antiviral COVID treatments are hailed as a pandemic game-changer, but they're currently in very short supply — and that's only one of several barriers to access for high-risk patients.

The big picture: Even when supply ramps up, it will still be tricky to connect some of the most vulnerable patients to the pills without changes to the process.

Four-day workweeks get rave reviews, but they're not catching on

Expand chart
Data: Indeed.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

The four-day work week is nowhere close to becoming the norm, despite a flurry of corporate announcements, media coverage and intense interest from worker bees worldwide.

Why it matters: With the pandemic throwing work-family dynamics into chaos and a labor market favoring workers, there's demand for this.

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