The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the rising adoption of various sensing devices in vehicles to collect real-time data and resolve the traffic challenges for safer driving. Further, the development of Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) communication technology has enabled vehicles to interact with their surroundings with the help arrays of sensors. Thus, with the rising number of sensors in a vehicle the demand for high functioning sensor networks will increase. Activity is also driven by growing importance of technologies such as V2X communication, traffic monitoring, global positioning system (GPS), and collision avoidance system. 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: vehicle sensor network. 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

Vehicle sensor network is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

A vehicle sensor network involves the integration of various sensors and cameras into a vehicle that work together to gather data about the vehicle's surroundings and make decisions based on that data. This can include driver assistance features, autonomous driving capabilities, and other safety and convenience functions.

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 vehicle sensor network.

Key players in vehicle sensor network – 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 vehicle sensor network

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Magna International 43 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 14 Unlock Company Profile
Cognex 1 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 16 Unlock Company Profile
Webasto 2 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 21 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 8 Unlock Company Profile
Aptiv 6 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 10 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 22 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 8 Unlock Company Profile
Sharp 6 Unlock Company Profile 1 Unlock Company Profile
Donnelly Group 3 Unlock Company Profile
LG 2 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 41 Unlock Company Profile
BorgWarner 1 Unlock Company Profile
Yazaki 1 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 6 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 5 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 2 Unlock Company Profile
Nexar 4 Unlock Company Profile
NextEV, U.S. 2 Unlock Company Profile
Seek Thermal 3 Unlock Company Profile
Nio 56 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
Aurora Innovation 1 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing TuSimple Future Technology 5 Unlock Company Profile
Kodiak Robotics 1 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Yanfeng Jinqiao Automotive Trim Systems 1 Unlock Company Profile
Great Dane 2 Unlock Company Profile
Faraday Future Intelligent Electric 4 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Nio is one of the leading patent filers in vehicle sensor networks. Most recently, the company has invented an emergency route guidance system for autonomous vehicles. Furthermore, the company is integrating advanced sensor devices in vehicles to improve diving performance by collaborating with NXP Semiconductors. Through this collaboration, the company will provide a high-level autonomous driving experience with improved sensor resolution and extended detection range. Similarly, Magna completed the acquisition of Veoneer's active safety business to scale up the sensor and systems engineering capabilities. Some other key patent filers in the space include Nio, Magna International, and Denso.

In terms of application diversity, Nio leads the pack, while Continental and Kia stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Nio held the top position, followed by Sony Group and Magna International.

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