It was a four-lane road in the middle of the Egyptian desert. It was baking hot.
And my taxi had broken down.
I was an idiot to take this taxi to begin with. The ramshackle vehicle looked like it would break down at any moment.
However, I needed to get to the Aswan airport fast, and this was the only taxi I could find. So, I jumped in.
My driver seemed a bit shifty, and I’d been warned to watch out for setups where I might get robbed, kidnapped for ransom or extorted for money.
And now I was in the middle of nowhere with a driver I didn’t trust.
The driver was trying to get the car started again. I kept looking all around to see if this was a setup. Was I about to get robbed… or kidnapped?
Luckily, nothing happened. The driver literally wired the car into starting again. It sputtered a couple more times before we got to the airport, but I made it safely. Still, the driver’s face sticks in my head… and in my gut, I know I got lucky.
But very soon, we won’t need to worry about the character of the person driving a car… or the reliability of the car.
That’s because self-driving cars have gone from a wacko sci-fi-like idea that most people believed would take 10 or 15 years to come… to something that we’re seeing on streets today.
The Next Leap Forward in Tech
Last week, ride-share company Uber introduced its self-driving car in Pittsburgh. Uber’s cars are Volvo XC90 SUVs retrofitted with electronic components that make them self-driving.
Now, it’s still early in the development of this technology. Uber’s cars will actually be manned by a person who can take control of the vehicle when it hits a situation that it’s not programmed for or if there’s an emergency. It’s a bit like autopilot on a plane with a person at the controls just in case.
Uber’s self-driving initiative is going to have 100 cars as taxis in the streets of Pittsburgh. If you use the Uber app, you could get a self-driving car sent to you the same way you do now when placing a ride request.
Uber is looking to test the technology on passengers, pedestrians and other drivers in real-life, real-time conditions… and get data to adjust and improve everyone’s experience of using these cars.
Self-Driving Cars: More Than a Fad
Many people are skeptical about self-driving cars ever working out. They believe that it’s a technological fad. And if it does work out, it’ll take 20 or 25 years to pan out.
Personally, I believe that self-driving cars will become a usable reality in the next three to five years. For sure, it’ll be a novelty at first, like many new technology experiences of the past. However, the convenience of being able to take a car ride to your destination without having to worry about traffic, routes, weather hazards, accidents, road rage, irritation, boredom or potential threats from the driver is a powerful factor that’s going to make self-driving cars a massive hit product.
By a massive hit product, I mean that it’ll take off and be something that people take to in the same way that people took to the iPhone and iPad.
And clearly the stock market agrees with me.
That’s why you’re seeing stocks associated with self-driving cars such as Nvidia shoot up by 175% in the last year. Another success story is Mobileye, which is up 80% since February.
The keys to self-driving cars are sensors and data… and then computers to process this data. These things form the essence of a revolution that’s taking place right now called the Internet of Things mega trend. And it’s going to change the way we transport ourselves around the world.
There’s big money to be made both in self-driving cars and the Internet of Things mega trend. However, you can’t buy into Uber directly because it’s a private company. And you can’t blindly buy into stocks like Nvidia and Mobileye without doing proper research.
One way you can get in is to buy the VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (NYSE Arca: SMH), which has broad exposure to self-driving cars and the Internet of Things mega trend.