We all wish we had a Magic 8 Ball for technology trends.
Imagine 10 years ago if you could have asked…
Will the iPhone be successful?
Will millions of people really interact through social media?
Will video streaming supplant traditional TV?
So much happens so quickly today and not everything takes off (Anyone still have a Windows phone? A Google+ account?).
One of the most important places to see new tech trends emerge is at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The world’s largest technology event features more than 4,500 companies showing off what they hope will be the next big thing.
If you’ve been watching the media reports, you’ve seen a lot of cool stuff. Some of the more interesting things include virtual reality headsets, boxing robots and a smartwatch that runs off solar power and body heat.
But self-driving car technology is the trend that stole the show.
Matt McCall, the editor of Investment Opportunities, loves CES because he loves digging into the latest trends and helping his readers get in on the ground floor. He lives and breathes finding “the next big thing” so his readers can get all the big gains before anyone else. After reading Matt’s analysis I always feel smarter, and he works hard to help his subscribers use that intelligence to get richer.
Self-driving cars, sometimes called autonomous vehicles (AVs) is one of our favorite trends to follow. In case you don’t remember, last year at CES Ford CEO Jim Hackett delivered the keynote address and said new technology would “completely disrupt” the way people drive.
This year confirmed that the trend continues. Matt noted these highlights in AVs that made headlines at CES.
Daimler (DDAIF), the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, announced that its truck unit plans to unleash Level 4 automated trucks on the roads in the next 10 years. (I’ll explain more about levels below – Luis)
Level 4 automation is high automation – or nearly full automation. That means the vehicle is able to start, drive, park, and stop. In other words, it can complete a trip on its own. However, it will not be equipped to cover every possible situation. The driver may have to assist in some instances such as severe weather or an unmapped location.
Daimler will begin production of its new Freightliner Cascadia truck this year. The vehicle will possess Level 2 semi-automation, which means it can perform more than one automated function simultaneously. For example, the truck will be able to control speed and steering via cruise control with lane centering.
Even further ahead of the game is TuSimple, a San Diego-based startup (and not a public company). Its fleet currently contains 11 fully autonomous trucks, and the company plans to boost that number to 40 by this June. TuSimple is running up to five daily autonomous shipments in Arizona for 12 different customers.
Matt has been pounding the table about AVs for some time now. When you combine sales, supplies and service, the car market is already a $7 trillion dollar industry and AVs are on the verge of completely disrupting the marketplace.
We don’t have a Magic 8 Ball to tell us what the future holds, but we have a lot of intelligence about what the technology can and will do, plus some projections about growth that can give us a good sense of what the future will look like.
***The projected growth for AVs is phenomenal
The growth in this market will start slowly, but will really kick off in 2021 when the average consumer will be able to buy an AV. Matt explains….
Realize 2021 is only two years away. HIS Markit projects 51,000 AVs will be sold that year.
As the adoption of AVs spread around the globe, it will lead to 20x growth in a matter of only four more years. By 2025, the number should hit one million unit sales annually.
Sales momentum will continue to build. Over the next 15 years, the number of AVs available for personal use, car sharing companies, public transportation, delivery and just about any other purpose you can think of will lead to those 33 million units sold in 2040.
Right now the majority of these companies are based in the United States, but by 2040 the majority will be sold in China – the world’s largest car market – where estimates are for 14.5 million AV sales annually.
If your feeling skeptical about all this, consider the car you drive now.
***Odds are the car you drive now already has some level of automation that you’ve accepted without even thinking about it.
In Matt’s quotes above he mentioned Level 4 and Level 2 vehicles. There are 5 levels of automation, and you’ll probably see all of them in the next two years.
Level 1 – Some autonomous features. You’ve already got this if you have cruise control, or park assist (where the car can parallel park for you).
Level 2 – Partial Automation. The big jump here is the car can use more than one automation feature at a time. For example, the car can control speed and steering via cruise control with lane centering.
Level 3 – Conditional automation. The car can control speed, steering, and road monitoring without assistance, but humans are still needed in certain situations.
Level 4 – High automation. Now we are getting into what you might be imagining. The vehicle can start, drive, park and stop by itself. At this level the car can drive you back and forth to work. Driver assistance may still be needed in severe weather or an unmapped location.
Level 5 – Full automation. This is what all the companies are shooting for. No human needed. We may see the first roll-out of these vehicles as early as 2021 according to Matt.***And the opportunity is not limited to cars.
I’ve been using the term “vehicle” throughout this essay for a reason. The opportunity in trucking is just as big. Matt explains why the opportunity here is so great.
I believe we are still years away from trucks being fully autonomous (Level 5), but high automation (Level 4) should be reachable in the next five years. A level 4 truck would have the driver maneuver the actual docking and delivery as well as navigate tricky backroads, but once on the highway the driver will disengage and the truck will drive itself.
By law, drivers are limited to 60 hours per week and must take scheduled breaks, so you can see how a level 4 truck would increase productivity. A driver could take his or her break during the highway portion of the trip while the truck is driving itself, opening the possibility of the truck running nearly 24-7.
It’s stunning to consider the economic efficiency of that.
So, you can see why everyone is trying to get in this game, as quickly as possible.
Autonomous vehicles is a major trend that I’ll cover frequently in the coming months and years.
As I said earlier, Matt McCall is the guru on these kinds of trends. He’s the on I turn to to
He’s prepared an even more detailed presentation so you can get a better understanding of how the technology is going to change the way we all drive, and how investing early can make you rich!
To a richer life…
Luis Hernandez, Managing Editor
and the research team at InvestorPlace.com