The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by safety concerns, safety regulations, cost reduction of sensors, and growing importance of technologies such as computer vision, LIDAR, and machine learning. In the last three years alone, there have been over 1.7 million patents filed and granted in the automotive industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in automotive: ADAS. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

300+ innovations will shape the automotive industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the automotive industry using innovation intensity models built on over one million patents, there are 300+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, integrated multi-motor drivetrains, electric power steering (EPS), and post-collision handling are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Variable compression engines, V2V distance monitoring, and turbocharger shaft bearings are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) and plasma-jet ignition, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the automotive industry

ADAS is a key innovation area in automotive

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) refers to a set of technologies and systems implemented in vehicles to assist drivers in various aspects of driving. These systems use sensors, cameras, and algorithms to analyze the surrounding environment, detect potential dangers, and provide warnings or take control of certain vehicle functions to enhance safety and convenience.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of ADAS.

Key players in ADAS – a disruptive innovation in the automotive industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.  

Patent volumes related to ADAS

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance 118 Unlock Company Profile
INRIX 106 Unlock Company Profile
Tata Motors 274 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 1292 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 352 Unlock Company Profile
iRobot 67 Unlock Company Profile
Valeo 65 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 243 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 433 Unlock Company Profile
Husqvarna 330 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Geely 118 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 454 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 70 Unlock Company Profile
Aptiv 140 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 293 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 180 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 137 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 675 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 77 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 210 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 103 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 461 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 223 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 98 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 168 Unlock Company Profile
LG 193 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 294 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 98 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 359 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 130 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 638 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 82 Unlock Company Profile
Nuro 131 Unlock Company Profile
Positec Power Tools (Suzhou) 71 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 89 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota Motor is one of the key patent filers in ADAS. Toyota has partnered with various tech companies, research institutions, and start-ups to leverage their expertise in ADAS and autonomous driving technologies. Collaborations include working with companies such as NVIDIA, Mobileye, and more. Toyota Research Institute (TRI) was established to lead Toyota's research efforts in autonomous driving, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. TRI focuses on developing advanced technologies and exploring innovative solutions in the ADAS and self-driving domains. Toyota has been working on Automated Highway Driving Assist (AHDA), a level 2 ADAS technology that combines adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assistance to enable semi-automated driving on highways. Ford Motor and Honda Motor are some other key patent filers in this space.

In terms of application diversity, Nuro leads the pack, while State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance and INRIX stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Nuro held the top position, followed by INRIX and iRobot.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Automotive

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.