The era of the autopilot is almost a reality

The sci-fi movies from the 80s that show images of computer-controlled cars are very close becoming an everyday life reality. It is so close to reality that a research by the consulting agency McKinsey predicts that up to 15% of vehicles sold in 2030 will be fully automated. The consumer’s interest is very tangible, in fact, even today data indicates that the volume of hybrid and electric cars sold globally has tripled in three years and the estimates for the end of 2017 indicates a growth of 42%.

The skills and the technological means are already known and available to the main manufacturers (Tesla, VW, Daimler) but there are still some problems. In addition to the need for new types of insurance and regulations for this type of vehicle, the main obstacle to overcome is the need for human intervention in an emergency. In fact, even the most sophisticated systems today don’t allow an effective reaction in the event of an unexpected event. A research from the University of Leeds indicates that the transition from the autopilot to human driver control may require up to six seconds, which in such situations it is an eternity!

Despite these barriers are slowing down the mass entry of fully automated vehicles into the market, some of these technologies are already widely disseminated on the market. Some examples are: advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), that are able to detect some objects, to report to the driver any dangerous road conditions and, in some cases, slow down or stop the vehicle; also, the latest vehicle communication technologies (V2V ) installed on some luxury vehicles like Cadillac.

These and other innovations are helping to revamp the car market, which is one of the sectors that has suffered the most from the effects of the crisis. For example, in Italy the sector is in a recovery phase supported now by strong consumer demand, which had been unsatisfied in the years of the crisis. The hope is that these innovations are to replace old obsolete cars. Data shows impressive figures both on the economic level, where there is a 16% increase of the number of new registrations in the last two years, and on the financial level, where the shares of the main car brands show excellent performance since the beginning of the year ( Ferrari + 76.94%, Fiat + 73.25%).

While waiting to take advantage of self-driving cars, investors can support and follow the growth of the automotive sector by buying single shares or ETFs from the sector’s indices. Among these we highlight the ishares Stoxx Europe 600 Automobiles & Parts. For those interested in the broader technological innovations sector, we highlight the iShares Automation & Robotics ETF listed on the London Stock Exchange which shows the trend of the main companies operating in the sector.


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