Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Drive.ai — a startup developing an on-demand autonomous shuttle service — is based in Silicon Valley, but it has deployed its first vans in Texas, drawn in by the state’s favorable regulations.

Why it matters: Without a national regulatory framework for autonomous vehicles, states have become laboratories not just for the technology itself, but also for the rules emerging to shape it.

The big picture: Federal legislation that would create national parameters for testing and deploying AVs passed the House but is stalled in the Senate, leaving states to create their own rules for now. Automakers worry that, without federal standards, they'll have to deal with a patchwork of state laws that would hamper a broader roll-out of the technology.

That leaves companies shopping for testbeds among the states. Their efforts will decide which Americans get to hitch a ride in an autonomous car first — and which cities will reap the potential economic benefits of self-driving vehicles, along with any problems.

For Drive.ai, Texas strikes a Goldilocks medium between highly regulated states like California and those with lax rules, like Arizona, said the company’s CEO, Sameep Tandon.

  • In Texas, a state Senate bill passed last year laid out clear rules and preempted local laws. That avoided "onerous requirements" on companies, said Christopher Poe, assistant director for automated vehicle strategy at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.
  • To make it easier for cities to contract self-driving car companies, the state is lining up agreements with three of them — including Drive.ai — so that local governments can pick one without having to go through a cumbersome procurement process.

The statewide rules and processes mean companies that expand into Texas will have access to a bunch of sprawling, populous cities, many of which are actively pursuing driverless car testing or deployments.

  • Drive.ai's self-driving vans are already puttering around an office park in Frisco, a Dallas suburb, and the company will launch a second program in nearby Arlington to shuttle fans to Dallas Cowboys games.
  • Poe says there are plans to deploy similar services in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi.

The state of the states beyond Texas:

  • Currently, 29 states have passed some kind of regulation for self-driving cars, some more extensive than others.
  • In California, regulations include specific testing rules and requirements that companies submit reports of certain metrics.
  • In other states, like Arizona, Texas, and Florida, the regulations are much lighter and less explicit, enabling companies to more freely test and deploy ride services for passengers.

Where the companies are testing:

  • Waymo, Uber and GM Cruise are testing in states like California and Pennsylvania where they're located and can experience urban environments. Others are operating in Arizona and Florida, where lighter regulations make it easier to test and deploy ride services.
  • Testing is also determined by weather, not just regulations, the National Conference of State Legislature’s Douglas Shinkle points out. So far, much of it takes place in warmer, sunnier climates like California, Nevada, Texas and Florida where conditions are easier for today's AVs to navigate.

As companies get closer to deploying self-driving cars that are available to the public, state rules around consumer transportation will be even more important.

  • “Commercial deployment is the next big battleground in AV regulations,” says Greg Rogers, a director at Securing America’s Future Energy.

The other side: Some experts argue that self-driving safety regulation should really be done at the federal level.

  • “You should be able to buy a car in California and drive it to New York,” Rogers says, adding that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is best equipped to do this.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will not seek re-election in 2022

Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speaking during a press conference in November 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, said Wednesday that he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) will not seek third terms in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.

3 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.