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Now let's catch up on a busy week: today's Smart Brevity count is 1,406 words, a 5-minute read.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Not since the aftermath of 9/11 has there been such a fear of flying.
Why it matters: The novel coronavirus has the airline industry bracing for the worst downturn since the Great Recession. Even though the government says it's safe to fly domestically, the drumbeat of news about COVID-19 has cautious employers stifling business travel and worried families rethinking their summer vacation plans.
Driving the news: Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said Thursday the sudden drop in domestic air travel "has a 9/11-like feel."
What's happening: Travel agents are being inundated with calls and emails from panicked clients canceling trips and seeking refunds.
Citing a collapse in travel bookings, airlines are slashing capacity and making emergency cost cuts, even offering employees unpaid furloughs.
And the crisis comes as airlines are already reeling from the year-long grounding of Boeing's 737 MAX to fix software issues after two deadly crashes.
A global industry trade group is sounding the alarm, and even asking governments for help.
The public's fear of flying may be overblown, fanned by a wave of cancellations of big trade shows, conferences and events — anywhere there are large groups of people.
Studies by the University of North Carolina and others have found coronaviruses can survive on surfaces for days.
The bottom line: The pain is acute for airlines at the moment, but the industry bounced back vigorously after 9/11 and the 2003 SARS epidemic. People have short memories.
Xenex UV-emitting robot at work. Photo: Xenex
As coronavirus spreads across the globe, health care professionals are tapping germ-zapping robots and roving tele-doctors to help minimize human exposure to the virus.
Why it matters: Drones and other robots could potentially slow the spread of the illness and perhaps speed the delivery of medicines and other support where help is needed. But deploying them comes with a host of ethical questions.
What's happening: Hundreds of hospitals already use ultraviolet-emitting Xenex robots to disinfect operating rooms and kill MRSA and other pathogens. Now they're turning them on coronavirus, too.
What to watch: Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles can perform a variety of tasks that could be beneficial in fighting epidemics, like fanning out to deliver vaccines to virus hot spots.
Yes, but: The temptation during a humanitarian crisis might be to rush technologies to the scene before they're ready, even bending regulations to do so, which would be a mistake, disaster recovery experts warn.
GM CEO Mary Barra. Photo: GM
GM laid all its cards on the table this week in an effort to convince investors, journalists — and ultimately, consumers — that it is all-in on electric cars.
Why it matters: GM has occasionally pulled back the curtain on strategy before — usually when its future is in doubt.
Driving the news: GM laid out a comprehensive, $20 billion strategy to produce a wide array of electric vehicles between now and 2025.
Between the lines: Starting with a clean sheet, GM designed a new modular electric vehicle platform that can be stretched or squeezed to underpin everything from urban taxis to luxury cars to work trucks.
Here are my key takeaways. GM's EV strategy is:
The bottom line: GM is trying to thread a needle by maximizing sales of today's profit-spinning trucks and SUVs while delivering on its long-term vision for a cleaner, less congested world.
Backup: Coronavirus snarls trans-Pacific shipping and ripples through U.S. business (Jesse Newman and Jennifer Smith — Wall Street Journal)
Retread: This futuristic tire concept regrows its tread by popping a pill (Victor Tangermann — Futurism.com)
Broke: Ex-Uber self-driving head declares bankruptcy after $179 million loss to Google (Paresh Dave — Reuters)
2020 Cadillac XT6. Photo: Courtesy of Cadillac
I just spent a week in the 2020 Cadillac XT6, a new three-row, family-friendly crossover utility from GM's luxury brand.
The big picture: The XT6 is a new entry that slots in below the brand's flagship Escalade SUV, and shares underpinnings with the smaller XT5 crossover, its best-selling model.
It checks most of the boxes you'd want in a luxury crossover, including a long list of driver assistance and safety technologies.
My thought bubble: Although it looks like part of the Cadillac family, the XT6 feels like a placeholder, especially after I saw what GM has in the pipeline with the all-electric, tech-oriented Cadillac Lyriq.