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A sky view of the Abundant\u2019s apple picking technology.
A sky view of the Abundant\u2019s apple picking technology.

Around 87 million metric tons of apples are produced globally each year—a haul that takes tremendous coordination, time and labor. L.A.-based Wavemaker Labs recently acquired the intellectual property behind an automated apple-picking robot that uses artificial intelligence to eye an apple tree and suck the ripe apples right off the branch. Reporter David Shultz looks at the technology's potential implications for farmers, farm workers and shoppers.

Here’s what else we’re reading in the news:

- Billionaire astronaut books three more flights with SpaceX.

- Silent Arrow cargo drone company gets a $2.2 million Defense Department contract.

- Warner Music launches a DEI "institute" to help the company achieve its inclusivity goals.

- The Academy partners with Twitter to roll out a "fan favorite" acknowledgement at this year's Oscars.

Will Apple-Picking Robots Save Farms—Or Harm Farm Workers?

Santa-Monica based automation incubator Wavemaker Labs has revived technology that promises to change the game for apple orchards—but labor advocates fear what such automation could mean for America's 2.5 million farm workers.

Parallel Systems Gets Federal Funding to Test Autonomous Freight Cars

Parallel Systems—the startup founded by former SpaceX engineers to develop autonomous, electric rail cars for the freight industry—has received a $4.4 million research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, less than a month after the Los Angeles-based company emerged from stealth mode.

Snap Ramps Up Creator Payouts Through a New Feature

The Santa Monica-based social media firm is introducing advertisements embedded in the Snapchat stories of its most notable content creators. Snap will share some of the advertising revenue with those creators.

What's Behind Rivian's Sudden Stock Spike?

Electric truck maker Rivian staged a mini-revival on the stock market Monday, propelled by the news that George Soros’ investment firm had snapped up nearly $2 billion worth of shares in the company late last year.

Erewhon’s Latest Trendy Beverage? Barcode

Los Angeles’ trendiest grocery store is investing in a new sports drink that’s putting a healthy spin on Gatorade. Barcode is an L.A.-based sports drink startup launched by former New York Knicks performance director Mubarak Malik and former Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma.

Lockheed Martin Cancels Aerojet Rocketdyne Merger

Lockheed Martin has called off its $4.4 billion acquisition of rocket propulsion manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne after the Federal Trade Commission filed an antitrust lawsuit accusing the aerospace giant of attempting to create a monopoly.

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