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Thomson Reuters report finds established auto industry companies, not Silicon Valley, leading development of autonomous driving tech

Established automotive industry companies—not Silicon Valley—are leading the development of autonomous driving technology, according to a new report from the Intellectual Property and Science business of Thomson Reuters. The report, which analyzes global patent activity in the field of self-driving automobiles over the last five years, identifies the global leaders in the development of the technologies and also makes predictions about the future of driverless cars.

According to the report—2016 State of Self-Driving Automotive Innovation—there were more than 22,000 new inventions related to self-driving automobiles between January 2010 and October 2015, with some clear leaders already emerging in the space.

The analysts looked at three main categories of technology: autonomous driving, driver assistance and telematics. Autonomous driving was the clear leader in terms of innovation activity, while projections through year end show driver assistance potentially plateauing and telematics on the rise.

Source: Thomson Reuters. Click to enlarge.

… headlines over the past year have touted tech companies innovating in the automotive space. This isn’t a huge surprise, as current-day cars are more like giant computers on wheels than the transportation chariots they once replaced. As such, tech businesses dabbling in the automotive sector continue to attract attention … With all this publicity, it’s easy to surmise that tech companies are taking the lead in terms of automotive innovation.

However, the truth is that the techies are far from leading the self-driving pack. To the contrary, automotive bellwethers are the ones in the driver’s seat. Toyota (Japan) is the overall global leader in autonomous automotive innovation, followed by Bosch (Germany), Denso (Japan), Hyundai (South Korea) and GM (US). The pool of potential candidates was evaluated against the three areas comprising self-driving car innovation: autonomous driving, driver assistance and telematics.

—2016 State of Self-Driving Automotive Innovation

Source: Thomson Reuters.. Click to enlarge.

Japan holds the world's leadership position in autonomous driving innovation (in conjunction with the field of collision avoidance) with four of the top five innovator spots: Toyota (Japan) leads the pack, followed by Denso (Japan), Bosch (Germany), Nissan (Japan) and Honda (Japan). Google ranks 19th in the world in this area, followed by Ford at number 20. Overall, Asia has 11 of the world’s top 20 autonomous-driving innovators according to the report.

The Thomson Reuters analysts found that there are a number of other organizations innovating in this area, including some potential surprises such as Amazon (with 14 unique inventions); Boeing (35); IBM (34); Microsoft (10); Qualcomm (24); Samsung (107); and Southeast University in China (24). Carnegie Mellon University and MIT have four and seven unique inventions, respectively.

In driver assistance technologies, Germany takes three of the top five innovator spots: Bosch leads the group while Daimler and Continental come in fourth and fifth, respectively. Toyota and Hyundai take the second and third places.

GM is the top innovator in Telematics, followed by Hyundai, Marvell (US), LG and Denso.

Although auto industry companies dominate the category, a number of more specialized technology and research institutions have amassed a noteworthy collection of self-driving vehicle-related patents. Among them, LG, Samsung, Google, Boeing, IBM, Amazon, Carnegie Mellon and MIT have all contributed significant new intellectual property in the category over the last five years. Given that, the field is ripe for partnership, according tomthe analysts.

Thomson Reuters IP & Science analysts predict that Apple will make a collaboration announcement with Tesla in mid-January after CES; although Apple is not a leading innovator in this field—with only one invention overall in the area of self-driving vehicles—a partnership with Tesla would be a predictable move for both companies, based on a thorough review of both companies’ patent portfolios.


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OMG. LOL. The lobbyists of the old auto-industry are working overtime to make them appear modern in the media. Tesla and Google are obviously currently leading the development of autonomous driving tech. Google because they have by far the world's largest test fleet (61 vehicles) of fully autonomous vehicles on public roads. Ford is second they have like 10 currently. Tesla qualifies as the leader because they have over 50k cars and counting with the only partially self-driving system that is OTA upgradable. The old auto industry is still predominantly in the lab and closed test tracks. And they would stay there forever if it was not for Tesla. But I expect it to change especially Volvo and Ford look like they are serious about this. Also I am 100% certain that Apple will enter this coming trillion USD industry for self-driving taxis, trucks and busses.

The old auto-industry is good at filing patents in large numbers but was matters is what products that are out among consumers and here Tesla is the king of partially autonomous driving. I predict the future news from Tesla will be mostly about new and better versions of their autonomous sensor package and associated software versions. It will be less about new car models that will be less interesting by comparison.


Remember please that typically only 1 in 100 patents ever gets used in a product. Are the people in the Intellectual Property and Science business of Thomson Reuters of evaluating the probability of use for patents? I suspect not. One does not work for Reuters of one will tell the truth.


Why is USPTO issuing so many patients to the same thing. navigation is 10 + years old
remember Garmin. How many varieties can you put on electronic steering?

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