Autonomous vehicle (AV) technology is advancing rapidly. The AV systems all work together as part of the interconnected computer environment within the vehicle.
One of the most important components is the distance detection systems. AV designers use a combination of methods to detect distance.
There is an assortment of technologies used today, such as cameras, SONAR, RADAR, and artificial intelligence (AI) computers. An emerging technology that is gaining ground is Light Detection And Ranging or LiDAR.
Similar to RADAR and SONAR that use radio and sounds waves respectively, LiDAR employs lasers to detect objects with 3D scanning technology, providing an extremely accurate measure of object spatial locations.
Distance is measured based on the time that every laser pulse takes to reflect back to sensors.
LiDAR is already incorporated in a variety of applications, such as meteorology, seismology, geology, and atmospheric physics with vehicles only the latest use. There is a growing group of proponents for the use of LiDAR in AV, including Waymo, Cruise, Uber and others.
Stocks to watch
An emergent company for LiDAR technology is Velodyne Lidar (VLDR). The company’s IPO was in 2018 and has beaten earnings estimates every quarter in that time.
According to Zacks.com, this stock ranked in the top 13% in its sector. Sales and earnings are expected to grow YoY 34% and 36% respectively, by the end of 2021 based on consensus estimates.
Investors are expecting drastic movement in the stock. Feb. 19, 2021 $10 puts implied volatility at 180%.
Luminar Technologies Inc. (LAZR) is an AV LiDAR sensor and software company with its IPO in 2019.
Like VLDR, it is in the top 13% of its sector. Sales are expected to grow YoY to 70%. But, earnings to be down 13% by the end of 2021 based on Zacks.com consensus estimates.
Investors are also expecting this stock to move considerably with the Feb 12, 2021 $25 put implied volatility at 160%.
Most wouldn’t think of Intel Corp. (INTC) as an AV stock. Although not just an AV stock, there is a huge processing requirement with giga- and terabits per second data accumulated.
Data processing from all the sensors is the most important function. Analysts are expecting growth over the next year.
Expected sales growth estimate of 1.42%, earnings estimate of 3.40%, and a trailing 12-month (TTM) EPS of 5.31%. Including a dividend makes investing in Intel a solid company to watch.
Disclosure: I have positions in both VLDR and INTC.