How Self-Driving Cars Are Coming Sooner Than You Think

by Mike Kapsch

Every so often, an invention comes along that completely changes the world.

For instance, the automobile and the airplane revolutionized how people travel.

And the computer and the internet allowed us to communicate and analyze data faster than anyone thought possible a few decades ago.

Fast-forward to today, and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is next in line to change the world in a way we’ve never seen before.

How’s it set to do so?

Self-driving cars.

The Future of Transportation

When Sebastian Thrun was 18, he lost his best friend to a car accident.

From that moment, he vowed to make cars better so people don’t need to die just driving from one place to another.

Today, he’s a Google VP and helped build Google’s driverless cars. In 2011, he spoke at a TED Conference and showed everyone just how revolutionary self-driving cars could be.

Even more promising, Google announced last week that of its dozen self-driving cars on the road, they’ve logged 300,000 miles and “there hasn’t been a single accident under computer control.”

Such data presents a strong case why self-driving cars may be necessary in today’s society.

The sad fact is, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are nearly 11 million auto accidents each year in America. Of those wrecks, 35,000 of them are fatal.

That’s 96 deaths per day just because someone made a mistake driving a car.

Even worse, it’s estimated there are some two million fatal crashes around the world every year.

It’s scary to think about.

But this is where self-driving cars could help. Not to mention the fact that they could also be used to reduce traffic jams and aggressive driving, as well.

Google says driverless vehicles could make a sizeable impact on the auto market by 2020. However, Ford (NYSE: F) is looking to bring them to consumers even sooner than that.

By 2017, the company expects an autonomous-driving mode will be available in its vehicles. That’s just five years away.

What’s more, there are at least five other driverless car projects underway around the world.

A few include projects at Audi, Volkswagen (OTC: VLKAY.PK) and Volvo (OTC: VOLVY.PK).

However, you may not have to wait for car companies to profit from the next revolution in car technology.

Looking Behind the Scenes

It’s estimated that autonomous vehicles generate about 1GB of data per second.

Now multiply that number by the vast number of cars on the road, and you’re looking at a massive amount of data to process and analyze.

That’s why companies involved in the big data space are also poised to gain from driverless cars.

Already, Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) helped Audi complete a TTS research car that completed a 12.4-mile climb of Pikes Peak in Colorado. It’ll almost certainly continue to be a major player the more driverless vehicles break into the marketplace.

Raytheon (NYSE: RTN) is another company that’s notably worked on driverless vehicle projects.

Nevada, California and Florida have all recently passed legislation that legalizes the use of autonomous vehicles. And Oklahoma and Hawaii are considering rules to legalize driverless cars as early as this year.

Momentum is moving quickly for self-driving vehicles. It’s going to be fun watching this revolutionary technology improve the driving experience.

Good Investing,

Mike

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