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AVs Take the Spotlight at CES 2019

By Matt McCallJan 10, 2019


It’s that time of year again. The 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is under way in Las Vegas, where more than 4,500 companies and 180,000 attendees have gathered to learn about some of the market’s newest and hottest innovations.

As I’m sure you can imagine, I love CES. It’s where I can get the inside scoop on all of the different up-and-coming technologies that will change our lives today, tomorrow, and years into the future.

A lot of exciting things have been announced. I saw an exercise bike that incorporates virtual reality (VR) to fuel motivation. I saw another VR headset that tracks your eye movement – so you can literally use your own two eyeballs as a remote. Now that’s cool.

Some other interesting products include a boxing robot, or the next generation of punching bags; a dog-like robot that delivers packages right to your door; a headband that trains your brain while you sleep; a self-cleaning litter box that comes with its own smartphone app; and a smart watch that runs off solar power and body heat.

But what has really stolen the show so far this year is self-driving car technology. This is a trend we’re following very closely in my investment newsletters, so I want to share some of the highlights with you today.

Self-Driving 18 Wheelers

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.

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. 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.

Safer Vehicle Communication

Ford Motor (F) endorsed cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology and demonstrated how it can be used to smoothly navigate various road hazards, such as tricky four-way intersections, without traffic signals or interrupting traffic flow. The company said it plans to install the technology in all new U.S. vehicle models beginning in 2022.

This announcement is important because other companies – including General Motors (GM) and Toyota Motor (TM) – and governments have invested in dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), a Wi-Fi technology that competes with C-V2X.

Europe also appears to be moving more in the direction of DSRC, according to Eric Jillard, an Axios Expert Voices contributor. Therefore, a lot of eyes will be on the progress of C-V2X in China.

Other Highlights

Those two announcements made the biggest splashes in the industry, but there is so much more going on at CES.

Toyota will offer its Guardian safety technology to other auto manufacturers. The system works by assisting human drivers, “amplifying” human ability “rather than replacing” it.

Mercedes unveiled a revamped version of its GLA sedan. The entry-level vehicle will be equipped with a camera and radar system that can see up to 1,640 feet ahead, allowing it to drive semi-autonomously in specific situations.

There was also a concept design by Bell Nexus for a hybrid electric air taxi that FLIES! That’s right… just like The Jetsons. The first test flight is expected in early 2020.

While some of these new technologies are a little more farfetched than others, all of the headlines coming out of this year’s CES have me very excited for what the future will hold. You can be sure we’ll be watching (and possibly investing!) in them in the years ahead.

Self-driving cars – aka “autonomous vehicles” (AVs) – represent one of the biggest investment opportunities of the next 25 years. This innovation will transform huge portions of our economy and create trillion-dollar ripple effects through time. It will create huge new winners in short periods of time. It will demolish losers in equally short periods of time. It’s critical that you stay on the right side of this trend. Click here to learn more.

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