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Self-Driving Cars: What Investors Need to Know

Nissan promises to have more than one fully self-driving vehicle on the market by 2020. That's still several years off, but the good news is that many autonomous features – such as smart cruise control and lane assist – are already in some vehicles today.

What will the self-driving future look like as different brands attempt to navigate the same roadways? As investors, we should be paying attention to companies that can help facilitate machine-to-machine, or M2M, communication, such as Sierra Wireless  (NASDAQ: SWIR  ) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) .

Motley Fool analysts Austin Smith and Rex Moore saw this technology first-hand at the recent 2014 International CES. In this video from the floor of the exhibit hall, they talk about the exciting things for investors should watch for.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Rex Moore: Let's shift a bit. Still technology in the car – we're talking self-driving vehicles, autonomous features – a lot of that already in the cars now, but what did you see here?

Austin Smith: Self-driving cars, to me ... what's really interesting about this industry is that you've seen a lot of the auto manufacturers experimenting with these things over the years, but for these cars to really become a reality and really become ultra-safe, and really effective in the way that you need in the mass market, they have to be able to communicate with each other.

What's crucial to that is the Google Open Auto Alliance, that was announced here at CES. Chevy can't just have its own homegrown self-driving cars. It needs to be able to communicate with the Fords and the BMWs and the Audis that are right next to it on the highway, and that Open Auto Alliance makes that a reality.

I think there are going to be a lot of winners from the autonomous vehicle revolution. Tesla  (NASDAQ: TSLA  ) – look to them to be an obvious player here – obviously the auto manufacturers that are here at CES, but I think it's those companies that bring it all together, the companies that are allowing these automobiles to seamlessly communicate with each other, that actually may be a bit more interesting from an investing perspective.

Now, we're not really sure of all the hardware, but expect some M2M companies, like maybe a Sierra Wireless, or companies of the like, to be involved in that cross-vehicle communication. Definitely an interesting thing from the manufacturer perspective, but from the investor perspective let's maybe look to a smaller company that's doing some M2M stuff, vehicle-to-vehicle.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 10, 2014, at 11:46 PM, mbzdriver wrote:

    Having a paper loss of almost 20% I am, to put it mildly, perplexed at the performance of Sierra Wireless, given the glowing reports and discussion regarding future growth. Any enlightening explanation would be thoroughly welcomed!

    I would have sold weeks ago, but am giving MF the benefit of the doubt


  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 10:52 PM, Heidikitty wrote:

    Am wondering if this has a good yield at three years or less on SWIR

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Rex Moore

Rex Moore spent his formative years in Texas, and fought beside Davy Crockett at the Alamo. He currently travels the globe for TMF, bringing back video reports on conferences and companies that matter for investors.

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