The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by consumer demand for convenience and safety features, informed decision-making, and regulatory requirements, and growing importance of technologies such as hands-free driving with the help of sensors, 360° camera and artificial intelligence (AI). 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 Internet of Things in automotive: autonomous steering. 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, LiDAR scanners, smart automotive lighting, and autonomous steering are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Vehicle sensor network, AV tire health monitoring, and collision avoidance systems are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are remote trip monitoring and smart speed governors, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the automotive industry

Autonomous steering is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

The ability of a vehicle to maneuver itself without human intervention is referred to as autonomous steering. It entails utilizing advanced technologies such as GPS, sensors, cameras, and vehicle-to-vehicle communication to correctly assess the vehicle's position and surroundings, as well as making real-time steering decisions.

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 autonomous steering.

Key players in autonomous steering – 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 steering

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Volvo 27 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Mobis 6 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 8 Unlock Company Profile
HL Mando 6 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 45 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 33 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 42 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 39 Unlock Company Profile
Aptiv 8 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 11 Unlock Company Profile
Neusoft 14 Unlock Company Profile
Nexteer Automotive Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 8 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 9 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 11 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 20 Unlock Company Profile 31 Unlock Company Profile
LG 18 Unlock Company Profile
DAF Trucks 15 Unlock Company Profile
BorgWarner 5 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 13 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 38 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 47 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 27 Unlock Company Profile
Uber Technologies 7 Unlock Company Profile
Peloton Technology 48 Unlock Company Profile
Nio 27 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Gogoro 28 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing TuSimple Future Technology 19 Unlock Company Profile
Stradvision 16 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Peloton Technology, one of the leading patent filers in autonomous steering, intends to widely commercialize platooning, a partially automated truck technology. It would still require drivers to sit behind the wheel, but it would be more fuel-efficient and, perhaps, safer than truck-based transportation today. Intel, Toyota Motor, and Alphabet are some other key patent filers also leading companies in autonomous steering.

In terms of application diversity, Gogoro leads the pack, while Amazon and Intel stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Intel held the top position, followed by Gogoro and Peloton Technology.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things (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.