- • The space fuel that will take us to Mars
- • Self-driving cars will follow the speed limits… at first
- • A trillion-dollar-plus greenfield opportunity
Welcome to our weekly mailbag edition of The Bleeding Edge. All week, you submitted your questions about the biggest trends in technology. Today, I’ll do my best to answer them.
If you have a question you’d like answered next week, be sure you submit it right here.
The space fuel of the future…
First up, one reader had a very interesting question on a new theme for The Bleeding Edge…
Jeff, what do you think of the prospects of hydrogen as a fuel source and the investability of this theme?
– Oleg D.
A great question, Oleg.
Hydrogen is a fantastic fuel source, especially for space travel. Coincidentally, I’ve been at Amazon’s first annual Amazon re:MARS conference in Las Vegas this week. MARS stands for Machine learning Artificial intelligence Robotics Space.
And Blue Origin, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ space company, has been an important part of the conference this year.
Blue Origin chose hydrogen for its rocket fuel because it is such an efficient fuel to get payloads to orbit. And better yet, once there is a manned presence on the moon, we’ll be able to produce our hydrogen-based rocket fuel for longer missions to Mars and beyond.
But I suspect you were thinking about a more terrestrial use of hydrogen.
Hydrogen fuel cells are an excellent form of clean energy for cars. However, the biggest issue is the cost of both producing the hydrogen for the use in fuel cells and the fuel cells themselves.
It just isn’t economical right now. Hydrogen-powered cars are in use today but have very limited infrastructure for fueling stations in very few markets. Given the time and expense during the last 15 years to build out the electric vehicle (EV) industry and infrastructure, it will be very difficult for hydrogen to replace lithium-ion battery-powered EV’s in the near future.
Self-driving cars are getting smarter by the day…
How do self-driving cars handle the exit from a shopping center that has no stop signs?
Everyone exceeds the speed limit on interstates and many other roads. Will self-driving cars poke along at the speed limit?
– Bill B.
Thanks for the question, Bill.
Self-driving technology is being designed to map the surroundings of any location. The artificial intelligence can identify cars, people, animals, curbs, parking places, lanes, entrances, and exits.
Every month that passes, self-driving technology improves. Specifically, it gets better at “thinking” and inferring the appropriate solution for any objective. This would include the appropriate place to drop off a passenger in a shopping center as well as how to exit one.
As for the speed limit, yes, initially, self-driving cars will have to follow the speed limit. The real driver for this will be the need to satisfy regulatory requirements for the industry to sell (or lease) self-driving cars to consumers.
I say “initially” because, as self-driving cars become the majority of cars on the road, it will actually make more sense to increase the speed limit, which I predict will happen.
About 94% of all automobile accidents are caused by human error (texting, talking, arguing, driving too fast, etc.). The more self-driving cars there are, the safer the roads will be. There will also be less traffic and congestion. Self-driving cars won’t slow down on a highway to look at an accident on the other side and cause a traffic jam, will they?
In time, we’ll be able to get to where we need to go in comfort, with less congestion, and even faster than we can today.
The end of genetic disease is getting closer…
Finally, a question about the future of the genetic editing business…
Jeff, my understanding is that [a handful of companies] control all the patents pertaining to gene therapy. Is this true? If so, does this mean that [any company] doing gene therapy must pay some royalty or fee to one or more of these firms?
– Harvey V.
Hi, Harvey. You are correct.
There are more than 6,000 diseases caused by genetic editing mutations. And to make matters worse, nearly 95% of them have no approved therapy or treatment. But CRISPR genetic editing technology has the potential to cure every disease caused by a genetic mutation.
This is a massive, trillion-dollar-plus greenfield opportunity. And yes, there are only a handful of companies that own the key foundational patents. These companies were previously recommended to readers of my small-cap investing service, Exponential Tech Investor. Out of fairness to them, I can’t reveal the names of these companies.
To your question, I have written in the past that I believe these companies will eventually agree to cross-license their patents between one another so that the patent landscape is clear with regard to key genetic editing patents.
And one of two things will happen. Companies will either have to go to each company and license those patents directly or establish a patent pool that anyone can license a group of genetic editing patents from. Either way, the patent royalties will flow back to the key patent holders.
(Subscribers of Exponential Tech Investor can learn more about these stocks right here. And if you’re not a subscriber, I’d encourage you to sign up for next week’s technology investing summit. I’ll be discussing these investments in more detail then. Go here.)
Genetic editing represents the biggest shift in medical technology since the invention of antibiotics. That’s why CRISPR is a trend that should be on every investor’s radar. And it’s why we follow its developments so closely in the pages of The Bleeding Edge.
Do you have a tech question you’d like me to tackle next week? Send me your questions right here.
Editor, The Bleeding Edge
P.S. And if you haven’t already, be sure you save your spot for next week’s free technology investing summit…
Next Wednesday, June 12, at 8 p.m. ET, I’m sitting down for a frank conversation about the future of technology. And I’d love it if all readers of The Bleeding Edge could join me.
The event will be hosted in New Haven, Connecticut, right next door to Yale University, where I’m currently enrolled in an exclusive executive training program.
But you don’t have to fly to Connecticut – or attend Yale – to join me. Just reserve your spot right here, and I’ll see you online next week.