Wow, it’s been a week. Thanks to the novel coronavirus, most US automotive factory workers aren’t working right now, including, beginning Monday morning, those at Tesla. Airport staff are seeing way, way fewer airplanes take off and land. Truck drivers are hauling supplies every which way as the country weathers the mother of all supply chain disruptions. The Navy is readying two hospital ships to help take care of the sick. Oh, and former Uber self-driving head Anthony Levandowski may go to prison for trade secret theft after reaching a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.
We’ll say it again: It’s been a week! Let’s get you caught up.
Want to receive this roundup as an email every week? Sign up here!
Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week
- As the novel coronavirus pushes demand for groceries and medical equipment, truck drivers are looking for guarantees that they’ll have places to buy a cup of coffee—and sleep.
- Former Uber and Google self-driving program head Anthony Levandowski pleads guilty to trade secret theft, and may face prison time.
- Covid-19 is bad news for the automotive industry, and even worse news for the electric vehicle proponents.
- The Navy will deploy two hospital ships to help with the coronavirus response, but a surgeon who served on one of them doesn’t think it’s a great place to treat infectious disease patients.
- Tesla’s Fremont factory fell into this week’s “shelter in place” order—and it turns out not to be as “essential” as CEO Elon Musk believed.
- As commercial airlines see ticket sales plummet, some are using their passenger jets to fly cargo.
- Here’s how Amazon’s sprawling shipping empire has reacted to the pandemic.
- For the math fans in the back: How fast does a virus spread?
Heroes of the Week
Even amid city shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, we’re hearing about plenty of transportation folk—bus drivers, truckers, cleaning crews, and airport staff—out there getting the people who still need to move from A to B. Hey! We appreciate you!
Stat of the Week: $16 billion
The emergency funding needed to keep American transit operating, according to a request to Congress from the American Public Transit Association. President and CEO Paul Skoutelas told congressional leaders in a letter that the nation’s transit systems would lose 75 percent of its fares and sales tax revenues between March and September, and that they would spend some $2 billion on extra cleanings for trains, buses, and stations.
News from elsewhere on the internet
- Elon Musk vs. coronavirus.
- GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler close all US factories.
- GM and Ford might start making ventilators.
- Waymo suspends self-driving vehicle testing in Phoenix and Detroit.
- Mass transit needs a bailout.
- Uber says it has enough cash on hand to survive the pandemic, mostly because it doesn’t have to shoulder high operating expenses if rides aren’t happening.
- How fights between Uber, Lyft, and New York City regulators have turned driving for the companies there into a terrible grind. (Uber suspended the internal rules that created the situation in response to the coronavirus.)
- Uber and Lyft suspend their shared rides services in response to the pandemic.
- Lyft turns to delivery as demand for rides plummets.
- Covid-19 forces a French airline to break the record for longest passenger flight ever with a 15-hour and 45-minute, 9,764-mile jaunt between French Polynesia and Paris.
- Domino’s is hiring 10,000 pizza delivery people.
- Goodbye, Starsky Robotics. Says its founder: “Supervised machine learning doesn’t live up to the hype.”
In the Rearview
Essential stories from WIRED’s canon
And now for something relaxing and just plain fun: The most insane truck ever built—and the 4-year-old who commands it.
More Great WIRED Stories
- The freewheeling, copyright-infringing world of custom-printed tees
- How to upgrade your home Wi-Fi and get faster internet
- Chloroquine may fight Covid-19—and Silicon Valley’s into it
- These industrial robots get more adept with every task
- Share your online accounts—the safe way
- 👁 If AI’s so smart, why can’t it grasp cause and effect? Plus, get the latest artificial intelligence news
- 🏃🏽♀️ Want the best tools to get healthy? Check out our Gear team’s picks for the best fitness trackers, running gear (including shoes and socks), and best headphones