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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Autonomous vehicle fleets won't likely replace buses and trains in major cities, but two mobility tech firms are exploring how self-driving taxis might improve access to public transit systems.

What's happening: Self-driving tech company Motional (a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv) this week announced a partnership with Via that the companies say will serve as a blueprint for an on-demand, shared robotaxi service.

  • Via’s software enables cities and transit agencies to offer shared, on-demand rides, sometimes in place of underutilized bus routes or to help people in underserved areas reach mass transit stations — a service known as micro mobility.
  • Under the new partnership, Via’s ride-sharing app would include Motional's self-driving vehicles, alongside public transit information.
  • The service is expected to launch in the first half of 2021, in one of Motional's existing AV test markets, which include Las Vegas and Boston.

Go deeper

Cruise hires ex-Delta Air Lines executive to lead rollout of self-driving taxis

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Cruise is turning to a former Delta Air Lines' executive to begin the rollout of its self-driving taxi business.

Why it matters: Gil West, who retired as Delta's chief operating officer last year at age 59, will become COO at Cruise as it shifts from research and development to commercialization of autonomous vehicles. He'll report to CEO Dan Ammann.

Mitt Romney calls Ray Dalio's China investments a "sad moral lapse"

Sen. Mitt Romney walks to a Senate Republican caucus meeting at the Capitol on Oct. 7. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Thursday criticized billionaire Ray Dalio's investments in China, writing in a tweet that "his feigned ignorance of China's horrific abuses and rationalization of complicit investments there is a sad moral lapse."

Driving the news: Romney's comments come after Dalio's firm, Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, raised $1.3 billion in November for a new private fund in China, Bloomberg reports.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: First known U.S. case of Omicron variant identified in California — America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron — CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers.
  2. Politics: Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come — Meta removes accounts linked to COVID disinformation effort by China.
  3. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine.
  4. World: Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people — Omicron variant detected in more countriesWHO advises people 60 or older to postpone travel due to Omicron
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.