The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in vehicle digital twins is driven by factors such as the Internet of Things (IoT) adoption, advancement in simulation and modeling, data-driven decision making, and supply chain optimization, and growing importance of technologies such as IoT, augmented reality and virtual reality, edge computing, and cloud computing. 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 Virtual and augmented reality in automotive: vehicle digital twins. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over one million patents to analyze innovation intensity for the automotive industry, there are 300+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Vehicle digital twins is a key innovation area in virtual and augmented reality

A vehicle digital twin is a virtual representation or simulation of a physical vehicle. It is created by integrating various types of data and information related to the vehicle, such as its design, manufacturing specifications, real-time sensor data, operational performance, and maintenance history.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of vehicle digital twins.

Key players in vehicle digital twins – 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 digital twins

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Huawei Investment & Holding 5 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Steel 20 Unlock Company Profile
OPTIMUM 3 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm 4 Unlock Company Profile
Motorola Solutions 3 Unlock Company Profile
Tata Motors 6 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 19 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 24 Unlock Company Profile
Cox Enterprises 21 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 8 Unlock Company Profile
Flex 42 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 3 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 9 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 4 Unlock Company Profile
JVCKENWOOD 3 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 6 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 3 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 8 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 18 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 7 Unlock Company Profile
Naver 3 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 9 Unlock Company Profile
LG 8 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 11 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 13 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 37 Unlock Company Profile
Cerence 5 Unlock Company Profile
Verizon Patent And Licensing 2 Unlock Company Profile
Here 4 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Flex is one of the leading patent filers in vehicle digital twins. The company's vehicle digital twin technology is a virtual representation of a physical vehicle that is used to simulate and optimize its performance in real-time. The digital twin is created using data from the vehicle's design, manufacturing, and operation. This data includes information about the vehicle's components, systems, and software. Some other key patent filers in the space include Samsung Group, Toyota Motor, and Cox Enterprises.

In terms of application diversity, Continental leads the pack, while Robert Bosch Stiftung and Nippon Steel stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Flex held the top position, followed by Nippon Steel and Samsung.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Augmented Reality (AR) 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.