The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by factors such as the growth of e-commerce, the shortage of truck drivers, the rising cost of fuel, the demand for convenient delivery options, the advancement of autonomous vehicle technology, and growing importance of technologies such as fleet management technology, warehousing, and distribution technology, order management technology and customer relationship management technology. 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: autonomous on-demand logistics. 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

Autonomous on-demand logistics is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Autonomous on-demand logistics is a system in which goods and items are transported and delivered through autonomous vehicles and bots without the need for human intervention. These systems use a combination of mobility bases, auxiliary power modules, and cargo storage systems, along with mobile autonomy modules equipped with sensors, collision avoidance systems, human interaction interfaces, and autonomous controllers. The vehicles themselves coordinate their movements and use customized navigation maps to optimize delivery routes, while also providing real-time tracking and monitoring of packages.

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 autonomous on-demand logistics.

Key players in autonomous on-demand logistics – 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 autonomous on-demand logistics

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Sycamore Partners 16 Unlock Company Profile
FedEx 62 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 4 Unlock Company Profile
Bank of America 1 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 18 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 3 Unlock Company Profile
United States Postal Service 3 Unlock Company Profile 8 Unlock Company Profile
LG 6 Unlock Company Profile
DEKA Research and Development 9 Unlock Company Profile
International Business Machines 3 Unlock Company Profile
Walmart 150 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 17 Unlock Company Profile 4 Unlock Company Profile
Uber Technologies 14 Unlock Company Profile
FedEx Services 8 Unlock Company Profile
DoorDash 16 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing TuSimple Future Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile
Nuro 225 Unlock Company Profile
X Development 4 Unlock Company Profile
Zume 4 Unlock Company Profile
TuSimple 6 Unlock Company Profile
Uatc 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Nuro is one of the leading patent filers in autonomous on-demand logistics. The latest innovation by Nuro in this field is its R2+ delivery vehicle, which is a fully autonomous and occupantless delivery vehicle capable of operating in a variety of weather conditions and traffic environments. Additionally, it comes equipped with several new features that make it more efficient and versatile than its predecessors. Some other key significant patent filers in this space include Walmart, FedEx, and Panasonic.

In terms of application diversity, Ford Motor leads the pack, while Walmart and X Development stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Nuro held the top position, followed by FedEx and Walmart.

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.