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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
When the world's automakers are scrambling to retool into electric and driverless mobility companies, they are thinking about this number: 1 billion.
That's how many cars it is estimated will be added to the global fleet as early as 2030, igniting a frenzy over who will capture the sale of these probably much cleaner, higher-tech vehicles.
Why it matters: 1 billion is a large number. It is double the current number of cars on the road. And, at a rate of 80 million cars sold annually around the world, it is sufficient to build and sustain numerous trillion-dollar companies, a geopolitically defining scale of wealth.
What's going on: By the second half of the next decade, the cost of electric and combustion drive trains will converge, and then cross over, according to Bloomberg NEF, which studies renewable energy tech. Electric cars will become cheaper than conventional combustion systems, BNEF says.
There is no estimate for sales of self-driving cars, as commercial models do not exist yet. But almost every major automaker on the planet is pouring billions of dollars into creating electrics, driverless cars or both, often combined.
Driving the news: The developing world, chiefly China and India, will account for about 85% of the 1 billion cars to be added to the global fleet, analysts say.
Sound smart: The surer market for the planned high-tech vehicles is advanced countries — those with the least growth. But if they are to sell in the expected volumes, the market needs to start retiring cars a lot faster than the current dozen or so years they currently stay on the road.
And there is reason to believe they will.
The argument: At some stage, AI-infused sensors and other self-driving features will make such cars much safer than conventional, human-driven vehicles, analysts say. When that happens, they could trigger a change in social perception in which, for instance, a critical mass of parents are no longer willing to allow their children to drive in less-safe conventional cars.
Reality check: Colin McKerracher, head of advanced transport at BNEF, cautions that while fleet obsolescence could happen, it does not mean conventional vehicles vanish. Instead, they may be sold to drivers in other countries.
Reported rapes in the U.S. reached the highest point in a decade last year under both the FBI's old description of rape, which includes only women victims, and the newer definition, which includes all genders. Other violent crimes, including homicide, assault and robbery, are sharply down, reports Axios' Stef Kight.
More than two-thirds of rapes still go unreported, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
Amid a years-long outbreak of measles and other childhood diseases across Europe and the U.S., anti-establishment politics continues to put increasing numbers of children at risk, experts say.
What's going on: Last week, Italy extended the period before parents must certify that their kids have been inoculated against measles, highlighting the public's growing distrust of experts, including their doctors.
As we reported earlier this month, more than 41,000 people in Europe were infected by measles just in the first half of the year, according to the World Health Organization.
Super Typhoon Trami as seen from the International Space Station on Sept. 25, 2018. Photo: Alexander Gerst/ESA
China's system for taking other people's tech (Lingling Wei, Bob Davis — WSJ)
Super Typhoon Trami, from the ISS (Andrew Freedman — Axios)
Russia's fancy new cyber weapon (Kevin Poulsen — WSJ)
Food, not people, delivery is the new new thing (John Gapper — FT)
The hay in a haystack conundrum (Kevin Hartnett -— Quanta)
Image: Geography Photos/UIG via Getty Images
A robot developed in a Cambridge University lab can remove unwanted outer layers from freshly picked heads of lettuce, a task farm workers generally do by hand.
Why it matters: Robots will need to take over many manual farming tasks to keep up with a growing global demand for food. Tasks that require human dexterity — like peeling lettuce — are the hardest for machines to do, reports Axios' Kaveh Waddell.
The big picture: Robots excel in factories, where they perform the same task over and over in exactly the same way. But a gentler, more adaptable robot hand would be able to take on all sorts of physical tasks currently out of the reach of machines.
Like many actions humans take without even thinking about them, peeling lettuce presents all sorts of challenges for a robot.
It's still a tough task for a robot. In a statement, the researchers said their machine successfully pulled off the outer layer half the time, and it took nearly 30 seconds every time. Humans can do this in just a few seconds.