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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Auto companies, counterintuitively, are trying to get people to give up their cars — by making shared transportation more appealing with vehicles that recognize you, anticipate your needs and customize your ride.

Why it matters: Ride-hailing apps are making urban congestion steadily worse. In San Francisco, people spent 62% more time sitting in traffic in 2016 than in 2010. Uber and Lyft admitted they're part of the problem.

Driving the news: In Las Vegas next week at CES, the world's largest tech show, carmakers and other suppliers will offer the most advanced look yet at their plans for ride-sharing of the future.

  • Continental, a big auto tech supplier, will showcase technology that builds trust by updating passengers on their ride status while providing tailored messages and information on points of interest, upcoming events or connecting transportation.
  • Valeo will demonstrate acoustic technology that uses active noise cancellation to create a personalized media and communication zone so passengers can select who in a shared vehicle can hear them speak, and when.

What they're saying: "We need to move beyond the car," argued Cruise CEO Dan Ammann in a recent blog post, a remarkable statement for a former president of General Motors, one of the world's largest carmakers.

  • Cruise, he wrote, plans to reduce congestion by making shared rides "more compelling by providing an awesome experience at a radically lower cost."
  • "If our roadways are not getting any bigger, we need to use them more effectively, which means shifting some people into higher-volume forms of transit," May Mobility CEO Alisyn Malek tells Axios.
  • "We don't pretend that self-driving cars as a technology platform can solve the larger-scale issues around congestion and efficiency," Argo AI CEO Bryan Salesky said in an interview. But, he said, shared AVs can help by plugging gaps in existing transportation systems.

Yes, but: Convincing more people to use shared transportation is a hard sell, as Ford learned with its defunct Chariot private shuttle bus service.

  • Mass transit accounts for just 1% of all U.S. passenger miles traveled, and just 2% of total trips, according to the University of California-Davis.

The bottom line: With the right combination of incentives — something more than a comfortable seat and a robust internet connection — people might be persuaded to leave their cars at home.

  • The most important carrot could be convenience: In New York, bus ridership soared after a car ban on 14th Street cleared the way for buses, shortening travel time by 30%.

Go deeper

Updated 8 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

10 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.

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