Get the latest market trends in your inbox

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with the Axios Markets newsletter. 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!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on 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!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on 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!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

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!

Photo: Waymo

In one fell swoop, Waymo hired 13 robotics experts from defunct consumer robot maker Anki, including co-founder and former CEO Boris Sofman, to lead its nascent trucking initiative.

Why it matters: Waymo, a leader in robo-taxi development, wants to adapt its self-driving technology to other platforms, including commercial trucks. The hiring of Sofman and his all-star engineering team from Anki could accelerate that effort.

The big picture: Truck drivers are in short supply, which is why start-ups like TuSimple and Embark along with established trucking giants like Daimler and Volvo Group are racing to develop commercial trucks that can drive themselves.

  • Waymo has also been working in this space, but has been fairly quiet about its progress.
  • The company recently resumed testing in Arizona, after completing a pilot in Atlanta delivering goods for Google’s logistics team.

Details: Sofman will report to Waymo CTO Dmitri Dolgov and lead Waymo’s commercial truck efforts from San Francisco.

  • Sofman is not new to self-driving cars. As a student at Carnegie Mellon University, he worked with some Waymo alumni in the AV labs.
  • The group includes 5 PhD engineers, mostly from CMU's famed robotics program, as well as Stanford, MIT and Georgia Tech. 

Background: Anki was a high-profile consumer robotics startup that came out of Carnegie Mellon University's robotics program. Despite $200 million in funding, the company folded in April, laying off its entire staff after failing to raise additional capital.

What to watch: Dolgov talked about Waymo's wider ambitions at MIT Tech Review’s EmTech Digital conference in March.

  • “Our goal is not to build a car, we’re really building a driver. You can put this driver into all kinds of commercial applications, from ride-hailing, trucking, deliveries, connecting people to public transit and personally-owned vehicles."
  • "The nice thing about all those properties is that while the specialization layers are very different, the core technology, and the hardest problems that you’re trying to solve on research and engineering are exactly the same.” 

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Rahm Emanuel floated for Transportation secretary

Rahm Emanuel. Photo: Joshua Lott for The Washington Post via Getty Images

President-elect Biden is strongly considering Rahm Emanuel to run the Department of Transportation, weighing the former Chicago mayor’s experience on infrastructure spending against concerns from progressives over his policing record.

Why it matters: The DOT could effectively become the new Commerce Department, as infrastructure spending, smart cities construction and the rollout of drone-delivery programs take on increasing economic weight.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden turns to experienced hands for White House economic team

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Joe Biden plans to announce Cecilia Rouse and Brian Deese as part of his economic team and Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: These are experienced hands. Unveiling a diverse group of advisers also may draw attention away from a selection of Deese to run the National Economic Council. Some progressives have criticized his work at BlackRock, the world's largest asset management firm.

Biden taps former Obama communications director for press secretary

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Jen Psaki, who previously served as Obama's communications director, will serve as President-elect Joe Biden's press secretary, the transition team announced Sunday.

The big picture: All of the top aides in Biden's communication staff will be women, per the Washington Post, which first reported Psaki's appointment.