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Driverless Cars Hit the Road for Testing, Stocks in Focus

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Alphabet’s (GOOGL - Free Report) Waymo, the self-driving technology firm, has earned the first permit in the state of California to start testing its driverless cars on public roads, Fortune cited earlier this week.

More self-driving cars can be seen on public streets going forward too, as Apple (AAPL - Free Report) and Uber will also take their driverless cars out for testing in the near term. However, the only difference between Waymo and other self-driven cars is that the former has no humans sitting in the car during testing to look out for public safety.

Self-driven or robotic cars are being developed to offer an efficient transportation system minus the fear of human errors resulting in accidents. According to Allied Market Research, a crucial reason for the advancement of robotic cars is the estimation that these could reduce fuel consumption and insurance costs by 10% and 30%, respectively.

The advancement of self-driven car technologies brings into focus many prominent players from auto and technology industries that could see good growth ahead. Therefore, it would perhaps be ideal to add such stocks to your watch list.

Ford-Baidu Efforts

On Oct 31, Ford (F - Free Report) and Baidu (BIDU - Free Report) announced a collaboration to test self-driving cars in China for two years, CNBC reported. The companies will develop and test self-driven vehicles that will abide by U.S. industry organization SAE International’s level 4 standards.

"Working with a leading tech partner like Baidu allows us to leverage new opportunities in China to offer innovative solutions that improve safety, convenience and the overall mobility experience," Ford's autonomous vehicles unit’s president and CEO Sherif Marakby said.

The Ford-Baidu collaboration enhanced the competition for their U.S. rivals in the field of self-drive technology and advancement in artificial intelligence. Companies such as Microsoft (MSFT - Free Report) , Alphabet and Apple, which are relying on their investments and innovation in the area of artificial intelligence, could have a hard time facing the Ford-Baidu alliance.

The Future of Autonomous Cars

According to Grand View Research, the industry for driverless cars and trucks is estimated to witness a compound annual rate of 63.1% in the 2021-2030 period. The number of such vehicles hitting the market by 2020 is expected to be 6.7 thousand.

In addition to the companies mentioned above, some big players in the autonomous car industry worldwide include General Motors (GM - Free Report) , Diamler AG (DDAIF - Free Report) , Toyota, BMW and Audi.

Stocks in Focus

Tesla, Inc.’s (TSLA - Free Report) self-driving hardware, Autopilot, is included in all Tesla cars. The advanced self-drive system includes features such as lane catering, self parking and adaptive cruise control. Tesla carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and its shares have gained 8.4% year to date. The company’s earnings per share (EPS) is estimated to grow 75.7% this year.

Intel Corporation (INTC - Free Report) is one of the world's largest semiconductor chip maker. The technology company is working with BMW and Mobileye to develop automated cars. Intel is also working with Waymo to include its connectivity, sensor processing and artificial intelligence technologies in the project. The company carries a Zacks Rank #1 and its shares have gained 1.6% since the beginning of the year. Intel’s earnings are expected to grow 30.9% in 2018.

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA - Free Report) is a global leader in graphics processors and media communications devices. The company has collaborated with Volkswagen and Uber to solidify its place in the self-driving car industry. NVIDIA Corporation carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and its EPS is expected to grow 60.5% this year. Shares of the company have gained 8.9% year to date.

Apple Inc. has already registered 66 autonomous vehicles with the California department of motor vehicles for testing on public roads. This puts Apple on the third position after General Motors’ Cruise and Waymo. Apple has a Zacks Rank #3 and its shares have gained 29.3% so far this year. The technology giant’s earnings are expected to grow 27.8% for the current year.

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