Axios Austin

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October 06, 2022

It's Thursday!

☀️ Today's weather: Mostly sunny with a high near 92.

ğŸŽ‰ Programming note: Our one-year celebration is less than a week away!

Today's newsletter is 928 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Delivery robots not quite ready to roll

Illustration of a stoplight with the green light in the shape of a hamburger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Sidewalk delivery robots are cute and cool, but as more of them toddle along in Austin, pilot tests in four other U.S. cities suggest that it takes more than smart technology for a successful deployment.

Why it matters: Automakers and tech giants are pouring billions of dollars into everything from sidewalk bots to self-driving cars and delivery trucks, and regulators are scrambling to figure out how to manage them, writes Axios' Joann Muller.

Zoom in: The pilot tests — in Pittsburgh, Miami-Dade County, Detroit and San Jose — underscore the issues that companies face as they continue to roll out sidewalk delivery robots in Austin.

  • L.A.-based Coco in February sent four-wheeled, driverless robots to Austin to deliver food for local restaurants like Clay Pit.
  • Two downtown Austin Chick-fil-A restaurants have partnered with robot delivery company Refraction AI to deploy a fleet of driverless robots.

Details: For the pilot project, researchers examined cases on real streets to explore ways to engage the community in decision-making.

What they found: In some cases, it wasn't the robot itself that failed, but its ability to navigate local infrastructure.

  • In Pittsburgh, for example, robots had difficulty on rough sidewalks with overgrown bushes.
  • In Detroit, robots had a hard time making it across wide boulevards before the light turned red.

What they're saying: Luke Schneider, CEO of Refraction AI, didn't say whether the bots have run into issues with Austin's roads, but told Axios that the model's biggest problem to solve was limited accessibility for small businesses.

Of note: Coco officials declined to comment on how their robot rollout is going.

Between the lines: Autonomous delivery works in controlled environments, but is not ready to take over critical tasks such as delivering meals or medications for the elderly.

  • "What if the tech doesn't work that day? What is the backup plan to still deliver services?" said Nico Larco, director of the Urbanism Next Center at the University of Oregon.

2. 💸 Student-athletes poised to rake in cash

Data: On3 NIL; Note: Followers include Instagram, TikTok and Twitter; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios

A high-schooler slated to play quarterback at the University of Texas is already projected to be worth millions.

Driving the news: Newly released valuations based on performance, influence and exposure by On3 NIL, a firm that tracks athlete sponsorship, illuminate how much some students can capitalize on name, image and likeness.

  • Though he has yet to announce a major NIL deal, Arch Manning, who is scheduled to attend UT next year, is at one end of this spectrum.

Zoom in: Athletes at the University of Texas are open for business, per an Axios Austin review of the university's current NIL Marketplace portal.

  • You can pay UT softball center fielder Isabella Dayton $12 to record a short shoutout video.
  • UT basketball player Sir Jabari Rice will attend your practice for $128.

Context: Like Bronny James, the son of LeBron, Manning has primo name recognition, as the nephew of famed quarterbacks Eli and Peyton.

The bottom line: 15 months ago, college athletes could lose eligibility for accepting a couple hundred bucks' worth of free merch; now there's a booming industry tracking the legal deals they're making and projecting future value well into the millions of dollars, Axios' Jeff Tracy writes.

Go deeper

3. 🤠 The Roundup: Wrangling the news

Illustration of a pattern of bluebonnets.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

💰 A Latino civil rights group is doubling its reward offer for information that leads to finding or prosecuting a woman who allegedly lured migrants from San Antonio to Martha's Vineyard under false pretenses. (KUT)

🚔 A Leander police patrol vehicle with two officers inside was hit by a suspected drunk driver Tuesday night. (KXAN)

🕯 Former UT basketball legend and WNBA player Tiffany Jackson has died after a battle with breast cancer. She was 37 years old. (Austin American-Statesman)

4. How to do ACL Music Festival like a pro

A general view of the crowd during Polo G's set at Austin City Limits Music Festival on Oct. 3, 2021. Photo: Erika Goldring/WireImage

👋 Nicole here. I go to ACL every year, and I'd like to think I'm a seasoned veteran at this point.

The big picture: The festival is a marathon, not a sprint, and taking the time to prepare before you head to Zilker Park will pay off.

The top things you should know before heading to the fest:

What to bring
  • An empty, reusable water bottle, which can be filled at water stations inside the park.
  • Sunscreen, but make sure it's 3.4-ounces or less and in a non-aerosol container.

📱 Pro tip: Pack a portable charger. You'll be glad you did when you're trying to get home after a long day.

How to get there

Don't expect to drive and park at the festival, but there are plenty of other options.

  • The complimentary festival shuttle takes attendees to and from Republic Square and the Barton Springs west festival entrance.
  • Check CapMetro bus routes.
  • Hop on your bike or walk.

🍔 Pro tip: Have some time? Grab food on the way, with nearby options like Chuy's and Sandy's Hamburgers.

More tips

A new career is waiting for you

💼 Check out who's hiring now.

  1. Gameplay Engineer (Retro Studios) at Nintendo.
  2. Director, Integration Strategy at Charles Schwab.
  3. Director of Marketing Analytics at Springbox.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

5. One effin' stat to go

Illustration of an angry, swearing emoji, surrounded by angel emojis.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The potty-mouths of our area have helped Austin earn props as one of the top U.S. cities that swears the most.

State of play: We swear, on average, 21 times a day.

  • That's more than our better-behaved brethren in Houston and San Antonio, but less than our wash-your-mouth-out-with-soap DFW counterparts, per a survey of more than 1,500 people in 30 U.S. cities by Preply, a language tutoring company.
  • We all trail Columbus, Ohio, where the townsfolk swear a leading 36 times a day.

Between the lines: Roughly 7% of Americans say they don't swear at all.

💭 Our thought bubble: Saying "bless your heart" to throw shade should count as an expletive.

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Thanks to Lindsey Erdody for editing and Kate Sommers-Dawes for copy editing this newsletter.

📖 Asher is watching this recitation by writer and UT professor Roger Reeves of a poem from his new collection "Best Barbarian," which was named a finalist this week for the National Book Award.

ğŸŽ¸ Nicole is listening to Omar Apollo's interview with Alt.Latino.

  • Apollo is on the ACL fest lineup for 7pm Friday and will perform at ACL Live Saturday night.

Forward this newsletter to your ACL-going friends.