The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in 3D position detection is driven by safety, efficiency and overall performance of autonomous vehicles and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), and growing importance of technologies such as Light detection and ranging (LiDAR), structured light 3D scanning, stereo vision, and time of flight (TOF) sensors. 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 Artificial intelligence in automotive: 3D position detection. 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, autonomous on-demand logistics, end-to-end learning models, and adaptive driver alerting are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Vehicular vision, adaptive cruise control, and predictive acceleration control are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing.

Innovation S-curve for artificial intelligence in the automotive industry

3D position detection is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

3D position detection refers to the process of accurately identifying and locating objects in a three-dimensional space through the use of sensors such as cameras and LiDAR and generating point clouds that represent the objects in the space.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of 3D position detection.

Key players in 3D position detection – 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 3D position detection

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Huawei Investment & Holding 38 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 55 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 51 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 31 Unlock Company Profile
Topcon 80 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 328 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 94 Unlock Company Profile
Hexagon 55 Unlock Company Profile
Aptiv 47 Unlock Company Profile
Faro Technologies 118 Unlock Company Profile
TomTom 37 Unlock Company Profile
Meta Platforms 33 Unlock Company Profile
Koninklijke Philips 30 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 43 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 66 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 108 Unlock Company Profile 66 Unlock Company Profile
NVIDIA 88 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 33 Unlock Company Profile
LG 30 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 31 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 36 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 78 Unlock Company Profile
Didi Global 61 Unlock Company Profile
SZ DJI Technology 35 Unlock Company Profile
Guangdong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications 30 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 70 Unlock Company Profile
Here 64 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 38 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Baidu is one of the leading patent filers in 3D position detection. Baidu's Apollo project for autonomous vehicles is an open-source platform aimed at accelerating the development of autonomous vehicles. It includes a range of technologies for 3D position detection, such as LiDAR and radar-based perception systems, high-definition mapping, and sensor fusion algorithms. Baidu has been making significant strides in making autonomous driving safer and more accurate through the use of these technologies. Faro Technologies, Sony, and Alphabet are some of the other key patent filers in 3D position detection.

In terms of application diversity, LG leads the pack, while Intel and Facebook stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, TomTom held the top position, followed by Koninklijke Philips and Beijing Xiaoju Technology.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in 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.