The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for enhanced driving experience, fuel efficiency, and engine performance, and growing importance of technologies such as electrification, and connected and autonomous vehicles. In the last three years alone, there have been over 1.2 million patents filed and granted in the automotive industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Automotive: Servomotor controls. Buy the report here.

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 stabilising 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.

290+ 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 619,000 patents, there are 290+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, resilient spoke wheels, auto-transmission lubrication circuits, and ignition switching engines are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Engine purge actuators, electro-dynamic braking, and adsorptive vapour recovery system estimation are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are collision avoidance braking control system and direct injection type engines, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the automotive industry

Servomotor controls is a key innovation area in automotive

A servo motor comprises a standard DC motor, a gear reduction unit, a position-sensing component, and a control circuit make up. The position sensor, which is typically a potentiometer, receives feedback from the DC motor through a gear mechanism connected to it. The servo spline connects the motor's output from the gearbox to the servo arm.

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 servomotor controls.

Key players in servomotor controls – a disruptive innovation in the automotive industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to servomotor controls

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Hitachi 454 Unlock company profile
KYB 126 Unlock company profile
AB Volvo 95 Unlock company profile
Doosan Infracore 64 Unlock company profile
Sumitomo Heavy Industries 64 Unlock company profile
Kobe Steel 54 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 40 Unlock company profile
Komatsu 35 Unlock company profile
Liebherr-International 20 Unlock company profile
NOK 17 Unlock company profile
Dana 14 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 14 Unlock company profile
Eaton 13 Unlock company profile
Parker Hannifin 11 Unlock company profile
Caterpillar 10 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 9 Unlock company profile
Sunward Intelligent Equipment 7 Unlock company profile
Deere & Co 7 Unlock company profile
Toyota Jidosha Kogyo 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Hitachi is one of the leading innovators in servomotor controls with 454 patents. Hitachi's advanced motor technology enables its AD series AC servomotor control drives to deliver fully featured performance that satisfies the demands of a variety of applications. Control gains can be automatically tuned to the best values for each application using autotuning. Other companies innovating in this technology domain are KYB, Toyota, and Dana.

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.