Too many people are dying on our roads.
The number of deaths annually -- nearly 40,000 -- means someone dies in a car every 13 minutes.
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The economic impact related to care and productivity losses amounts to over $80 billion. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates the overall economic cost of traffic accidents approaches $1 trillion.
Despite the daunting figures, the truth is motoring has never been safer.
We're just driving a lot more. Americans drove more miles last year than any other year in history.
Over the past 50 years, on a per mile basis, the death rate has actually gone down 77%.
A lot of that improvement has to do with technology.
The classic cars of decades past are death traps compared with today's standards.
Modern automakers have meticulously thought through the physics of vehicular collisions to make cars exponentially safer.
Better brakes and tires, more powerful engines, crumple zones, seat belts and air bags make collisions more survivable.
Better suspensions and stiffer bodies mean cars stop quicker, handle better and accelerate faster, helping us avoid accidents in the first place.
Now vehicles are set to become even safer still. Thanks to autonomous-driving technology.
It's a trend that’s gained a lot of traction over the past year and should really take hold in 2018.
Making it a great way to profit in a still-booming tech sector.
The Race for Self-Driving Cars Is On
Companies focusing on driverless car technologies aren’t skating to where the puck is today (human drivers). They're skating to where they believe the puck will be (self-driving vehicles).
Putting their money where their mouths are, it's clear many big names in tech believe the driverless car trend will be huge, and soon.
Intel, for example, recently outlined a 2020 road map for self-driving cars. The company announced a fifth-generation self-driving system that will debut in 2020, to be featured in 2022 model vehicles. The system is based on technology recently acquired in an acquisition of a company renowned for creating crash detection systems.
This marks a significant transformation we're seeing at Intel. More than ever, the most important piece of silicon you will own won't be on your desk or in your hand. It will be under your seat, or in your dashboard cruising along with you in your driverless car.
Adding a touch of luxury to the experience, Intel also announced a new partnership with Warner Bros. The companies will work together to create an immersive media experience that aims to keep you fully entertained as your autonomous vehicle takes you from here to there.
It's clear Intel sees a huge future in self-driving cars, estimating that the autonomous-driving economy will be worth $800 billion by 2035, swelling to $7 trillion by 2050.
Intel however is still playing catch-up to many other chipmakers, which also have been working on this technology for years.
The Competition is Heating Up
Nvidia, for example, has leveraged its gaming circuit expertise, which uses powerful parallel processors known as GPUs to create the equivalent of a supercomputer that sits in your car.
Using cameras and sensors, the Nvidia system, called Drive PX, can identify vehicles, pedestrians and hazards with image recognition so accurate it can even tell what the make and models are of other vehicles around it.
Electric car maker Tesla has also recognized the importance of the driverless trend.
The company recently struck a partnership with a third major chipmaker to work on producing its own artificially intelligent self-driving chips.
There's clearly a race to become the first in self-driving cars. This market will be huge.
Automobiles are the second-most-expensive thing most people buy, after their homes, and they are becoming increasingly sophisticated technologically.
It's a huge opportunity for companies working on making autonomous driving possible.
With demand for self-driving cars set to grow sharply over the next few years, advanced chipmakers again look to be a great bet.
This article originally appeared on The Daily Reckoning.