Editors' pick: Originally published Jan. 3.
At this week's 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, automakers, chipmakers, software developers, and other tech companies will try to make the distant future of driverless cars more tangible to consumers and investors.
Nvidia (NVDA - Get Report) co-founder and CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang gives the key note address on Wednesday. While Huang will discuss artificial intelligence and gaming, self-driving cars will be a major part of the agenda. Other tech companies that will demonstrate their role in connected cars include Intel (INTC - Get Report) , merger partners Qualcomm (QCOM - Get Report) and NXP Semiconductor (NXPI - Get Report) , Cisco (CSCO - Get Report) , Mobileye (MBLY) , Harman (HAR) and even Blackberry (BBRY) , which is remaking itself as a software company.
TheStreet's Eric Jhonsa is attending CES all this week. He'll be covering news events, reporting from exhibit floors, speaking with industry executives and live blogging. Check out all of our CES 2017 coverage here.
"It's important for investors to see the level of commitments auto manufacturers are making to semiconductors manufacturers and software providers," said Moor Insights & Strategy analyst Patrick Moorhead. Many auto manufacturers use a range of tech vendors, he added, to mitigate risk and to keep competition lively.
Cars and auto technology play an increasingly prominent role at CES, Pacific Crest's tech team observed in a group report Wednesday. "Compared to three to five years ago, the show now includes keynotes or presentations from almost every major automaker and tier-1 supplier, with NVDA's CEO kicking it off with a much-anticipated keynote on Wednesday night," the analysts wrote.
For chipmakers and other technology companies, the smart car succeeds the smart phone as the ultimate networked device.
"I'm expecting big things in automotive semiconductors from Nvidia, Intel, the Qualcomm and NXP combination and Xilinx (XLNX - Get Report) ," Moorhead said. "Nvidia has the early self-driving lead given the recent Tesla (TSLA - Get Report) announcement and neural network datacenter domination, and I'd expect them to rack up a few more wins and add new capabilities."
Nvidia picked up Tesla as a partner earlier this year, after a fatal crash of one of its electric cars that was part of a self-driving technology test. Tesla and former partner Mobileye parted ways after sparring over the cause of the incident.
Advanced driver assistance system developer Mobileye has forged other partnerships, many of which will be on display at CES.
The company and Delphi (DLPH - Get Report) are planning a 6.3-mile autonomous road trip in an Audi Q5 at CES this year, with the companies dubbing the trip the "most complex" autonomous driving demonstration ever. Mobileye, BMW and Intel are also planning to livestream a connected car press conference from CES on January 4 to update their progress on a partnership first announced in July to produce fully autonomous cars by 2021.
Separately, Pacific Crest analyst Brad Erickson suggested in a report that Mobileye could announce a pact with Volkswagen at CES, a development that he writes "bulls have been waiting for all year." Mobileye co-founder, Chairman and Chief Technology Officer Amnon Shashua piqued expectations for a deal with VW in September when he told Fortune that terms were nearly finalized.
Finally, Shashua and Blackberry Chairman and CEO John Chen will take part in a discussion about the role of software and hardware in smart cars on January 6.
While Blackberry's stature in mobile phones has diminished, its presence in smart cars is growing through applications such as its QNX technology platform. The company's software is currently in more than 240 models and 60 million vehicles. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently joined Chen to announce the creation of the QNX Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Centre in Ottawa to further advance smart car technology.
For its part, Samsung has boosted its position in smart cars by acquiring Harman (HAR) , which has grown from a sound system developer into a leading connected car technology developer. Harman will exhibit a concept car developed with Swiss concept car developer Rinspeed in a showcase at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
In one of the more anticipated debuts, Faraday Future will unveil its much-hyped electric model that is a direct challenge to Tesla. Founded by Chinese billionaire tech entrepreneur Jia Yeuting, the company has kept details about the car under wraps during a rocky development cycle.
Fiat Chrysler will show off the 2017 Pacifica, the first electric minivan. The model features a jazzed-up infotainment system that integrates features from Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) CarPlay and Android Auto from Alphabet's (GOOGL - Get Report) Google.
Chrysler representatives would not say whether the company will disclose new details about the Pacifica model that incorporates autonomous driving technology from Waymo, the driverless car technology outfit that Google recently broke off into a separate company. Waymo said it would not have a presence at the show, but will present the new minivan at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan. 8.
Since announcing the parternship with Chrysler in December, Waymo has also reportedly opened talks with Honda.
"I expect [Waymo] to flex their muscles more," Moorhead said of the former Google unit.
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