The results show that different autonomous vehicle technology topics emerge during each of the three 10-year periods under analysis, including an initial period of understanding the surrounding environment and path planning, a second period marked by DARPA Grand Challenge motivated factors associated with the urban environment and communication technologies, and a third period relating to machine learning and object detection. This association with certain emerging technology topics in each decade is also characterized by different trajectories of continued or cyclical carryover across the decades. The results suggest a methodology that practitioners can use in examining research areas to understand which topics are likely to persist into the future.