5 Companies to Watch in the Driverless Car Revolution

Self-driving cars, once the stuff of science fiction movies, are set to become a reality soon. Already many driver-assist features, such as lane changing, traffic jam assistant and others, are being offered by automakers. Such features are, essentially, stepping stones to autonomous driving technology.

By definition, an autonomous vehicle is a car that is able to take on the primary transportation capabilities of a driver-controlled car. It is able to sense its surrounding environment and navigate that space without the involvement of humans. Technology like radar, lidar, GPS and computer vision help the cars accomplish this feat.

Nearly all automakers are now in various stages of developing self-driving cars. Some have even started testing them on public roads. Although bringing these cars to market will take years, it is obvious that driverless cars have a place in the future of the auto industry. Thus, long-term investors interested in the auto sector would be well-advised to invest in stocks that look set to gain from this trend.

Here are some of the largest companies that are sure to be part of the driverless car revolution:

Alphabet Inc.GOOGL , though not an automobile company, has been the most open about the development of its self-driving car. The tech giant seems to be several paces ahead of automakers when it comes to autonomous vehicle development. Its self-driving cars are already being tested on public roads in California and Texas. Alphabet Inc. has been working on self-driving vehicles since 2010 and plans to introduce these to the public by 2020.

Tesla Motors, Inc.TSLA is another company that is quite candid about the development of its self-driving car, which is expected to take around 5-6 years. Meanwhile, the company is set to roll out its Autopilot system this week. This will allow Tesla's cars to be partly self-driven. The Autopilot system will enable the car to drive autonomously at highway speed as well as park itself on private property. It will also add side collision warning and improved traffic aware cruise control.

Daimler AG 's DDAIF Mercedes-Benz unveiled its self-driving F 015 Luxury in Motion concept vehicle earlier this year. The concept vehicle has impressed car enthusiasts and generated a lot of positive buzz globally. The company was also one of the first to obtain a license for testing self-driving cars on public roads in California.

Honda Motor Co., Ltd.HMC recently obtained permission to test drive its autonomous vehicles on public roads in California. The Japanese automaker also has an autonomous vehicle testing facility in Concord, CA, where it conducts test drives of such vehicles. Honda currently offers several driver-assist features in its vehicles.

General Motors CompanyGM has also been focusing on autonomous vehicle development. At a recent investor conference, the automaker announced plans to launch a fleet of 2017 Chevrolet Volts, which will drive autonomously in its Warren Technical Center campus from late 2016. This will help the company in developing its technical capability related to autonomous vehicles. Further, General Motors will start offering its driver-assist technology - Super Cruise - on the 2017 Cadillac CT6 from next year.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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