The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. The automotive industry’s advancing autonomous vehicle (AV) climate controls, utilizing advanced sensor technology, computing power, and new strategies to enhance passenger comfort, efficiency, and convenience. AV climate controls in automotive include LiDAR, machine learning, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, infrared, solar, thermoelectric, smart material-based, and AI-powered systems, enhancing efficiency, comfort, and sustainability. 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: AV climate controls. 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 the 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

AV climate controls is a key innovation area in automotive

AV climate controls refer to the control systems and methods used to manage the climate conditions within autonomous vehicles. These systems utilize various sensors, processors, and algorithms to monitor and adjust factors such as temperature, ventilation, and air quality inside the vehicle. The goal is to create a comfortable and safe environment for occupants, while optimizing energy efficiency.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of AV climate controls.

Key players in AV climate controls – 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 AV climate controls

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Magna International 2 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 18 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Geely 1 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 37 Unlock Company Profile
Aptiv 11 Unlock Company Profile
Hanon Systems 22 Unlock Company Profile
Chery Automobile 2 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 8 Unlock Company Profile
LG 18 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 4 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 35 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 23 Unlock Company Profile
Uber Technologies 13 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 9 Unlock Company Profile
Air International Thermal Systems 1 Unlock Company Profile
Nuro 230 Unlock Company Profile
Uatc 21 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Nuro is one of the leading patent filers in AV climate controls. The company’s latest patent is for a machine learning system that optimizes climate control in autonomous vehicles. This technology improves comfort, efficiency, and emissions, making autonomous vehicles more comfortable and convenient. Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors are some other key patent filers in AV climate controls.

In terms of application diversity, Nuro leads the pack, while Samsung and LG stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Nuro held the top position, followed by Aptiv and Toyota Motor.

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.