Car makers gaining high tech ground despite Silicon Valley assault, says new report

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 08 January 2016

TESLA, Faraday Future, Google and Apple seem to be grabbing all the attention with new car technology but an authoritative report released today says established automotive industry companies, not Silicon Valley, are leading the development of autonomous driving technology.

The new report from the Intellectual Property and Science business of Thomson Reuters, analysed global patent activity in the field of self-driving automobiles over the last five years and identifies the global leaders in the development of the technologies. It also makes predictions about the future of driverless cars.

Main pic shows a Mercedes-Benz F015 autonomous car drving itself to last year’s CES show in Las VegAS.

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.

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.


The report said: “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.”

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 organisations 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 specialised 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 to the 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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