We analyzed over 9 million financial documents, covering more than 10,000 companies across the globe, for mentions of the self-driving car theme. We found that interest in self-driving cars has grown 8.5x in the past two years, but suspect that there is much more interest to come. Predictably, car and technology vendors were earliest in bracing for the technology’s impact, but the insurance industry is now beginning to take the threat seriously.
Self-driving cars are approaching quickly. Google unveiled its self-driving project just four years ago, while Tesla shipped the first car with its famous auto-pilot feature just one year ago. Though impressive progress has been made, much more is needed before self-driving cars reach scale. In the meantime, there have been setbacks. Last May, the first person was killed in a car operating on auto-pilot, while Uber ended its San Francisco self-driving project after a week amid permit conflicts with the DMV, along with several sightings of its cars running red lights. (The project continues in Arizona.) Despite the inevitable bumps along the way, self-driving cars—also known as “autonomous vehicles”—will almost certainly become a reality within the next two decades, and their impact will be felt massively across the transportation and logistics industries, among others. (more…)