Will Lockheed Martin's Revolutionary Self-Driving Vehicle Change Transportation As We Know It?

Lockheed’s driverless vehicle can navigate hazards, obstacles, pedestrians, and traffic -- and it could also save lives.

Feb 1, 2014 at 10:00AM

Lockheed Ugv

Lockheed Martin's autonomous convoy vehicle. Photo: Lockheed Martin. 

On Jan. 30, The U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC, and Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), demonstrated a fully autonomous convoy vehicle capable of "navigating hazards and obstacles such as road intersections, oncoming traffic, stalled and passing vehicles, pedestrians, and traffic circles in both urban and rural test areas." In other words, vehicles are one stop closer to being driverless. Here's what you need to know.

Autonomous to the rescue
As of Jan. 31, there have been a reported 3,417 coalition military fatalities in Afghanistan, alone. Further, the cause behind more than 1,300 of those deaths was improvised explosive device, or IED, attacks. Moreover, these numbers don't take into account coalition forces injured in IED attacks -- which are exponentially higher. Clearly, IEDs are a problem, which is where autonomous vehicles come in.

Images

Photo: Spc. David Marshall via Wikimedia Commons.

Troops are exposed to possible IED attacks in a number of different ways, including running supplies. As such, using autonomous vehicles likes Lockheed's could help eliminate injuries and deaths from missions. Plus, as DARPA reports, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001 states, "It shall be a goal of the Armed Forces to achieve the fielding of unmanned, remotely controlled technology such that ... by 2015, one-third of the operational ground combat vehicles are unmanned."

Autonomous and the future
Lockheed isn't the only company working on autonomous vehicles. Oshkosh (NYSE:OSK) built an unmanned ground vehicle, or UGV, called the TerraMax, which is capable of unmanned and remote-controlled operation, and of course, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is working on autonomous vehicles, using a Toyota Motors Prius and an Audi TT.

More importantly, what all of this points to is the ability for vehicles to be driverless. For military applications, this is a logical is step. And as military applications -- like GPS and the Internet -- have a way of trickling into civilian use, this could affect transportation as a whole.

What to watch
For now, UGVs seem more suited for military purposes and, in fact, could save a number of lives. As such, Lockheed's successful Capabilities Advancement Demonstration is great news for the company and could end up being quite profitable. In addition, the ability for cars to be driverless could end up affecting civilian transportation -- although this seems to be less straightforward, as a number of people actually enjoy driving. Still, it's something investors should watch.

Even an unmanned vehicle can run without this
Record oil and natural gas production is revolutionizing the United States' energy position. Finding the right plays while historic amounts of capital expenditures are flooding the industry will pad your investment nest egg. For this reason, The Motley Fool is offering a comprehensive look at three energy companies set to soar during this transformation in the energy industry. To find out which three companies are spreading their wings, check out the special free report, "3 Stocks for the American Energy Bonanza." Don't miss out on this timely opportunity; click here to access your report -- it's absolutely free. 

Katie Spence has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Google and owns shares of Google and Lockheed Martin. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.


Compare Brokers