The recent fatalities from driverless cars operated by Tesla and Uber are tragic in human terms and disastrous in a business sense.

However, it’s not the end of the road for the developers of autonomous vehicles.

That’s because the major auto manufacturers are not developing the technologies for building driverless cars purely as an endgame.

Toyota, for example, recognises the value of investing a billon dollars in this space because much of the technology can also be used in household gadgets for the elderly.

Given Japan’s rapidly ageing population, such innovation addresses investors’ desire to see a pipeline for potential value creation in the future.

It also offers an example of a social good that can result from committing significant resources to innovation.

The technology being developed for autonomous vehicles may be the catalyst for other innovations – that might in turn deliver more benefits to society.

Driverless cars may never take off in a big way, but the carmakers betting on the technology are likely to prosper- perhaps having morphed into something completely different.

The importance of the flexible business model cannot be overlooked.