🚘How Driverless Cars Are Driving The Future Of Our Mobility

Technological change often happens quicker than we think. Take the crypto space. What started out as an obscure piece of tech has penetrated many areas of finance and commerce. Now we’re looking at a blockchain-based internet (Web3), blockchain-based organisations (DAOs) and loads more. Blockchain is here and it’s not going anywhere. And we’re seeing somewhat of a technological revolution that’s driving change in the world of cars and transportation. Before you know it, you’ll be arriving at the airport via a flying taxi and your food delivered to you via driverless bots. C’mon, that’s pretty cool! I bet our kids will probably find it totally normal and un-cool. It’ll be as mundane as using their (futuristic) mobile phones. But until we get there, let’s bask in the coolness.

Racing Ahead

Back in the 1900s, you’d be travelling to and from places via a horse and cart. That was the means of getting around back then. But fast forward a mere 10 years and the first combustion-engine motor car (built by Ford) started roaming the roads. And before you know it, they were all driving cars. Gone were the days of being schlepped around by horses. However beautiful, efficient it was not!

Now we’re witnessing another shift in gears since we’re finally realising we’ve gotta get our emissions way, way down all while increasing our convenience (horse and carts were anything but!), affordability and, most importantly, our safety. By 2030, Biden wants 50% of all US car sales to be zero-emission which means that electric vehicles (“EVs”) will represent the majority of car sales since they’re greener and more efficient. In the UK, we plan for our cars to be zero-emission by 2035 which means that we, too, will have to seriously invest in EVs to get greener and cheaper cars.

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com

These driverless things have already hit the roads in San Francisco! Over there, Waymo (the Alphabet-owned driverless car group) has already hit the road in the testing phase whose CEO reckons that the next gen will not need a driver’s license! Instead, they’ll be escorted by their very own driverless car. But Cruise (General Motors’ driverless car division) is ready to launch its robotaxi service to the public in San Francisco (lucky fellas!) that spurred another $1.35 billion investment from SoftBank. Cruise doesn’t yet have a license to actually charge customers (not now anyway) and their service will only be operating from 11pm-5am. Despite that, it puts Cruise (now valued at $30 billion) miles ahead of Waymo. But it is still early days and all is to ride for. Who will be the winner? Time will tell. 

Flying High

It’s not just driverless cars that we’re after, it’s flying taxis too! And these aren’t as far off as we think. The technology needed for this sort of innovation requires things like lightweight materials, high-density batteries and – the most important bit, mention machine learning which is crucial to the self-pilot bit of aircrafts. And most of these already exist. Machine learning (the key ingredient) is becoming more and more sophisticated each day. Able to predict and detect a plethora of different outcomes. All this kind of infrastructure exists which make me think that flying taxis aren’t just for sci-fi movies!

I recently read that Boeing has invested another $450 million in flying taxi start-up Wisk Aero that is hoping for their autonomous passenger-carrying vehicle to be the first to be certified in the US! Fear not, because rival plane makers Airbus and Embraer are also investing in these sorts of start-ups while developing their own flying taxis. Investors have also ploughed a whopping $4.3 billion to electric air taxi start-ups during 2021 alone. My guess is that they’re hoping to bag the next Tesla!

Terrific Tech

China’s tech, though, is way ahead of ours. I was recently on a call with someone who lives in Hong Kong and he was telling me how even the beggars on the street accept your charity with QR code transfers via WeChat! It’s no surprise then that in Shenzhen, the modern metropolis, thousands of buses and taxis are already electrified. I bet the roads over there hum rather than vroom, if you know what I mean. Must be a far more peaceful existence! But fingers crossed we’ll get there too.

China’s main EV players are Nio (NYSE: NIO) and XPeng (NYSE: XPEV) who are all playing their part in the electrification of cars. While over in the US, it’s Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) that seems to grab all the EV attention and this one needs no intro! Though the space for EVs is bound to get crowded, it’ll be brimming with opportunity as the rapid transformation in transportation takes place. Flying taxis and driverless cars are already in the making and we could be using them before you know it. Speaking of which, in one of Domino’s adverts, it showcases Nuro (a driverless bot aka a taxi for food!) zipping through the streets as it delivers pizza for lucky residents in Houston. But this is just the beginning. And this gets me excited.  

Photo by Mehdi MeSSrro on Unsplash.com

Hold Your Horses

But, I wouldn’t start waving goodbye to your Uber driver just yet! Driverless cars (and flying taxis) won’t be without their challenges and adoption takes time. It’ll also take years before they become the cheaper (and safer) alternative. The road will be laden with its own obstacles. For starters, these driverless bits of tech don’t come cheap. They can cost as much as $200k per car! And for companies like Waymo, they’ll need to spend years testing their cars which will be costly and timely. But, like all bits of tech, they usually start off being expensive. The first Apple Macintosh cost $2,495. Which (incase that didn’t sound like too much) is the equivalent of $6,220 in today’s money! But now, you can bag one of those snazzy Mac’s for a sixth of the price. Prices do come down. And I suspect the same will be for driverless cars. But we’re not there. Not just yet anyway.

Photo by Owen Beard on Unsplash.com

All this technological change gets me excited. Our future is bright, filled with all sorts of exciting opportunities. While markets are certainly volatile at the minute with talk of a mother-of-all-crashed coming along (if it hasn’t already started), many are getting freaked out. But it’s things like driverless cars, blockchain, metaverse, AI and all those kinda buzzwords that give me a real buzz. The world is changing. And this means one thing: loads of exciting investment opportunities. After all, if finance isn’t about using our money to better our world than what is it really for?

We’re living in the most privileged age where more and more people are escaping poverty and technology is moving at the speed of lightning. So, dear reader, keep your eyes peeled for all the exhilarating changes that are already well and truly underway. The world will look totally different years down the line. And your portfolio could do, too.

Invest in our future. Be a part of something bigger than yourself.

Disclaimer: This blog is not investment or financial advice. It is my opinion only. This blog is not a personal recommendation to buy/sell any security, or to adopt any such investment strategy. Always do your own research before you commit to any investment.