I don’t think I’ve been this excited about the end of the year ever. New Years Eve can’t come fast enough for me. Not because I’m looking forward to some boozy celebration — far from it. I’m not even drinking this New Years (which is rare).
I’m looking forward to the end of this year because it means I’ll be just days away from attending the CES in Las Vegas. CES is easily the biggest tech trade show in the world.
Over 170,000 people were at CES in 2016. The total floor space of exhibitors extends to 2.47 million net square feet. More people flood into Las Vegas over that week than there are hotel rooms. I have no idea how that works, but I guess a lot of people bunk in together.
It’s an intense week, full of incredible tech, breakthroughs and world firsts…
Incredible development in just two short years
I was at CES in 2015 and it was incredible. The world’s biggest and most pioneering tech companies all gather to debut new tech. Sometimes they’ll test run prototypes. Sometimes they’ll release immediately available products. Sometimes they’ll just put on show an idea of the future that might be five or 10 years away from even becoming reality.
It was at CES 2015 that I discovered one of the most pioneering companies on our buy list at Revolutionary Tech Investor. We’ve already locked away 100% gains on that one, but are still keeping half in play for the next, bigger opportunity.
I also saw firsthand the marvel of self-driving cars. At the time Audi had their self-driving A7 model on display. It had driven from Los Angeles to Las Vegas — with human supervision of course.
Mercedes Benz were also running their self-driving F 015 around town. I spotted it one night doing laps of the Las Vegas strip.
One of the things I noticed about CES 2015 was the huge presence of carmakers. It was very clear the tech world and the car world were far closer than ever before.
It also told me self-driving cars weren’t a crazy idea. They were reality, and they were coming.
Alien crop circles and laps of the Las Vegas strip
With CES 2017 just around the corner I already know what to expect. Having been there before, I know how to work it. I know what to look for. I know who I want to hear from and what I want to see. To get the most from CES, preparation is key.
The first point of call is getting to hear the major players speak.
And the first major speaker will be CEO of NVIDIA [NASDAQ:NVDA] Jen-Hsun Huang. He’s delivering the preshow address on 4 January. Will I be there to hear him? You bet.
Huang will no doubt talk about VR, gaming and AI. But he’ll also be talking about self-driving cars. As the President of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), Gary Shapiro said,
‘Mr. Huang is a visionary CEO who consistently anticipates trends well before their arrival. I am especially pleased to welcome him to the keynote stage given the growth we’ve seen in all of these areas on the CES show floor.’
NVIDIA has a habit of dropping major news at CES.
In 2015 they commissioned a series of ‘alien’ crop circles in California. It was global news. But it was really a marketing stunt. The whole thing was to promote their new Tegra processor. Solely because they said it had ‘otherworldly capabilities’.
Then in 2016 the released their Drive PX 2 platform for self-driving cars. You can bet NVIDIA has another surprise in store for 2017.
Another keynote will be from Carlos Ghson. Ghson is the Chairman and CEO of Nissan Motor Company [TYO:7201]. The CTA describe him as, ‘a major figure in the advancement of the global automotive industry.’
Ghson’s keynote will be on 5 January, the opening day of CES. The press release about it says that Ghson, ‘will discuss a major technological breakthrough in the realization of a zero-emission, zero-fatality world for everyone.’
But it doesn’t stop with Huang and Ghson. Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] CEO, Mark Fields will also be speaking at the Leaders in Technology Dinner. In another press release I just received today, the CTA explains,
‘Ford is strengthening and investing in its core business, while at the same time aggressively pursuing emerging opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility – the company’s plan to lead in vehicle connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and data and analytics.’
That’s two of the world’s biggest carmaker CEOs. They don’t just go to any old event. When it comes to the future of their companies, they only hit the most important gigs.
I have no doubt that almost every major carmaker in the world will be at CES. Everyone will have some kind of self-driving tech. There will be other connectivity tech, but the focus will be on self-driving cars.
Proof that self-driving cars are almost ready to go
CES now has an ‘Autonomous Vehicles Marketplace’. This zone will demonstrate the latest tech in self-driving cars. I’ll be amongst it. I’ll be using it. I’ll be figuring out how to profit from this revolutionary tech.
From what I see, it’s only a few short years away. In just the last two years self-driving car tech has shifted into overdrive. It’s moving forward at incredible speed.
Real world testing of self-driving pods is underway. In Milton Keynes the LUTZ Pathfinder was just put through its paces. Just this week it got to run around the city in ‘full-autonomous’ mode. It was able to detect and avoid pedestrians. Sure it was only on a 1.25-mile circuit. But it was still a self-driving car.
This is what progression looks like. And it’s only a matter of time until self-driving cars are driving around amongst us all. Of course, a major stumbling block will be regulation and government red tape.
It seems like the US and the UK are progressive enough to see this is the near future. Sadly, it might take Australia a lot longer. According to a Sydney Morning Herald article about ‘Australia’s first self-driving car’ last week,
‘…don’t expect to see [self-driving] cars on the road anytime soon. Roads Minister Luke Donnellan expects that could be up to 15 years away.’
In my view self-driving cars will be on the road by 2020. That’s just three years away now. 15 years’ time…well that says a lot about the government’s approach to new tech — they’re about a decade behind the eight ball.
Editor, Money Morning