The future is finally here, and it starts with self-driving cars. No longer a work of science-fiction, AI-assisted vehicles are real, tangible things that you can actually ride in without steering. If you’re in Pittsburgh or San Francisco, you might even find yourself riding around in a self-driving Uber (though you might want to avoid them for a while).
Unfortunately, you can’t just go out and buy a self-driving car right now. Sure, Tesla ($TSLA) vehicles feature an “autopilot” mode of sorts, but it’s nowhere near as complete as, say, plugging in a destination and not paying attention to the road. The technology to accomplish such a feat is far from perfect, rather pricey, and not supported by state laws in many places.
That’s all set to change in the next few years. As companies test their self-driving cars in real-world situations and gather more data, their vehicles will become smarter and eventually go on sale for consumers.
Best of all, you can actually invest in this cutting-edge technology before it hits the market. Here’s how.
Waymo, Google’s self-driving car company, is perhaps the most famous company to produce autonomous vehicles.
The company ($GOOG) is getting ready to test 100 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica hybrids on public roads in 2017. All cars will have a human inside them, and their trips will be used to make the cars safer and smarter. There’s no timetable as to when these cars will be available for purchase, or if they’ll be available beyond Uber-like rentals.
Mercedes-Benz is investing a ton of research and development money into self-driving cars.
STMicroelectronics makes the chips inside the “Mobileye,” which powers self-driving cars.
If self-driving cars become popular, which they undoubtedly will, STMicroelectronics ($STM) stands to benefit greatly from each vehicle’s sale. After all, you need chips to make those all-seeing cameras work, and STMicroelectronics is their biggest supplier.
Delphi Automotive is working with Mobileye and Intel on self-driving cars.
The company ($DLPH) is already the world’s largest automotive parts manufacturer. They stand to greatly increase in value if they become the world’s largest self-driving car parts manufacturer, too.
Numerous other tech and automotive companies are hard at work to introduce their own spin on self-driving cars.
Audi is developing their own self-driving car technology, which should be out in the next several years. Apple ($AAPL) is reportedly hard at work on self-driving car technology, though the company is famously private about all of their future product releases.
Should you invest in self-driving cars? There’s no doubt that self-driving cars are the future of automotive technology. Yet as of right now, no one knows if they will be affordable to regular consumers or just a luxury feature. There’s also the problem of legislation, as states need to pass legislation to allow self-driving cars on the road in the first place.
If you believe that self-driving cars will be a hit with consumers and eventually be allowed on every road, then you might want to consider investing in one or some of these companies and holding onto your investment for the future. If you can’t wait for laws to pass and people to accept self-driving cars, however, you might want to invest in something else.