The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in pulse width modulation (PWM) motor control is driven by energy efficiency, variable speed control, reduced heat generation, precise motor control, and growing importance of technologies such as field-oriented control and sensor less vector control. 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: PWM motor control. 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

PWM motor control is a key innovation area in automotive

PWM motor control refers to the method of controlling the speed and torque of a motor using pulse width modulation signals. It involves varying the duty cycle of the PWM signal to achieve the desired motor performance. By adjusting the on and off times of the PWM signal, the average voltage delivered to the motor can be controlled, resulting in precise motor speed and torque control.

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 PWM motor control.

Key players in PWM motor control – 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 PWM motor control

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
NTT 352 Unlock Company Profile
Tata Motors 69 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 90 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 2691 Unlock Company Profile
iRobot 100 Unlock Company Profile
Valeo 138 Unlock Company Profile
Schaeffler 62 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 291 Unlock Company Profile
BYD 148 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 249 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 302 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 249 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 474 Unlock Company Profile
Yamaha Motor 228 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 537 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 86 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 152 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 187 Unlock Company Profile
NTN 194 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 637 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 215 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 101 Unlock Company Profile
Komatsu 114 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 82 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 371 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 201 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 100 Unlock Company Profile
LG 65 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 245 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 97 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 108 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 182 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 263 Unlock Company Profile
Gogoro 128 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 105 Unlock Company Profile
Dyson 75 Unlock Company Profile
BD Auto and energy 173 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota Motor is one of the leading patent filers in PWM motor control.  The company uses pulse-width modulation to control the brightness of the laser pulses in solid-state LiDAR systems. Solid-state LiDAR is a type of LiDAR that uses a solid-state laser instead of a spinning laser. Solid-state LiDAR systems are smaller, lighter, and more reliable than traditional LiDAR systems. Other key patent filers in this space include Honda Motor, Hitachi, and Nissan Motor.

In terms of application diversity, Yamaha Motor leads the pack, while iRobot and Komatsu stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, iRobot held the top position, followed by Komatsu and Dyson.

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.