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A Waymo autonomous vehicle. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Several of the leading companies developing autonomous vehicles are planning a Washington push to calm fears that the technology will radically reshape the nature of work, including the elimination of driving-focused jobs.

Why it matters: Automation powered by new developments in robotics and artificial intelligence is both a business opportunity for these companies and a potential public-relations nightmare, if they are seen as responsible for large-scale unemployment.

The details:

  • Members of the new Partnership for Transportation Innovation and Opportunity include Silicon Valley powers like Alphabet’s Waymo, Uber and Lyft alongside traditional automakers Ford, Daimler and Toyota Motor North America. The American Trucking Associations and FedEx are also part of the effort.
  • In a release, the group noted that "autonomous vehicles may change aspects of certain occupations and may result in a reduction in the need for others over time."
  • Maureen Westphal, a communications consultant who is executive director of the new effort, said the group of companies planned to conduct some “fact finding discussions with stakeholders here in DC” as well as around the country. She said she couldn’t yet speak to the group’s policy priorities.

What they’re saying: “The member companies leading the coalition really believe that while we work out these practical problems, we also need to focus on the individual worker and what the AV future means for them,” said Westphal.

The bottom line: Automation will become a more prominent issue as self-driving technology gets closer to consumers, so the companies driving potential job displacement are trying to get ahead of it.

Go deeper: Read Axios' recent deep dive on automation

Editor's note: This was clarified to show that a reference to the group's "priorities" was referring specifically to policy priorities.

Go deeper

Updated 58 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Biden holds first phone call with Putin, raises Navalny arrest

Putin takes a call in 2017. Photo: Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty

President Biden on Tuesday held his first call since taking office with Vladimir Putin, pressing the Russian president on the arrest of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the Russia-linked hack on U.S. government agencies.

The state of play: Biden also raised arms control, bounties allegedly placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine, according to a White House readout. The statement said Biden and Putin agreed maintain "consistent communication," and that Biden stressed the U.S. would "act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies."

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.