Amid the constant barrage of autonomous driving news, and today’s major Tesla (TSLA - Free Report) ruling, one highly popular semiconductor stock has seemingly cruised under the radar in terms of self-driving car coverage: Micron (MU - Free Report) .
On Tuesday, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board found Tesla at least partially to blame for the first official car-related autopilot death. The NTSB announced that “operational limitations” in Tesla's Autopilot technology played a major role in a deadly May 2016 crash.
The committee concluded that it was too easy for a driver to push the limits of Tesla’s current hands-free driving technology and safety measures (also read: Tesla Stock Gains While Self-Driving Tech On Trial).
But Micron might be poised to help every major automaker create a secure self-driving vehicle future.
Micron’s Self-Driving Exposure
Micron markets its memory and data storage solutions to computer manufacturing firms, consumer electronics companies, and telecommunications powers. The semiconductor giant has also invested heavily in vehicle safety technology that could prove to be foundational for a driverless car future.
The company’s vehicle-focused semiconductor technology currently helps reduce human driving errors, which includes gesture control interfaces that help detect drowsy and distracted drivers. Micron technology combines multiple vehicle sensors to create more advanced computer “vision” in vehicles. The company’s artificial intelligence also helps cars detect objects and humans that might be in the road and alert the driver.
And a key factor in the long-term viability of self-driving car technology will the ability for vehicles to interact with one another. That is why Micron has also started to develop vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology.
Micron is also working towards stopping outside, system-level security threats to connected vehicles. This less-talked about, but vitally important, security issue could ultimately lead to successful driverless car ecosystems—or potentially doom the whole industry.
On Tuesday, Micron executives partnered with Cisco (CSCO - Free Report) , Microsoft (MSFT - Free Report) , NVIDIA (NVDA - Free Report) , and Qualcomm (QCOM - Free Report) to talk about the future of autonomous driving. Micron estimates that by 2020, a single connected vehicle could require at least 1 terabyte of memory storage capacity.
The company is already shipping automotive-grade low-power DDR (LPDDR) memories to automotive clients. Micron contends that this technology can enable overall system bandwidths of up to 100 gigabytes per second. However, according to Micron, bandwidths of 300 GB/s will be needed in order to power fully autonomous vehicles down the road.
“Micron’s GDDR memory will provide the industry with the first automotive-grade solution that can meet the future performance needs of self-driving vehicles,” Micron VP of Embedded Business Unit Jeff Bader said during the panel.
Today’s connected vehicles require vast amounts of memory to power all of their high-tech features. As the long march towards driverless cars continues, memory needs will only grow. The world of self-driving cars can’t start until safety measures improve exponentially, as Tesla Autopilot accidents help prove.
Micron is already working towards a future where every car on the road needs to automatically detect everything that is going on. And there can be no long load times when people are allowed to be asleep at the wheel.
It seems Micron and its advanced data storage technology is helping pace the race towards driverless car technology.
The company is currently a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Shares of Micron are up over 50% year-to-date, and it saw its stock price hit a new 52-week intraday trading high on Tuesday.
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