Is the automotive sector seeing the beginnings of an AI investment boom? - Just Auto
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Is the automotive sector seeing the beginnings of an AI investment boom?

09 Jun 2021 (Last Updated June 9th, 2021 12:44)

AI deals, jobs and patents have been booming in the last few years. But is the automotive sector keeping up?

The automotive industry is seeing an increase in artificial intelligence (AI) investment across several key metrics, according to an analysis drawn from GlobalData’s database.

AI is gaining an increasing presence across multiple sectors, with top companies completing more AI deals, hiring for more AI roles and mentioning it more frequently in company reports at the start of 2021.

GlobalData’s thematic approach to sector activity seeks to group key company information on hiring, deals, patents and more by topic to see which companies are best placed to weather the disruptions coming to their industries.

These themes, of which AI is one, are best thought of as “any issue that keeps a CEO awake at night”, and by tracking them it becomes possible to ascertain which companies are leading the way on specific issues and which are dragging their heels.

One area in which there has been some increase in AI investment among automotive companies is in the number of deals. GlobalData show that there were 14 AI deals in automotive in the first quarter of 2019. By the first quarter of 2021, that number was 21.

Hiring patterns within the automotive sector as a whole are pointing towards an increase in the level of attention being shown to AI-related roles. There was a monthly average of 644 actively advertised-for open AI roles within the industry in April this year, up from a monthly average of 293 in December 2020.

It is also apparent from an analysis of keyword mentions in financial filings that AI is occupying the minds of automotive companies to an increasing extent.

There have been 135 mentions of AI across the filings of the biggest automotive companies so far in 2021, equating to 19.3% of all tech theme mentions. This figure represents an increase compared to 2016, when AI represented 13.5% of the tech theme mentions in company filings.

AI is increasingly fueling innovation in the automotive sector, particularly in the past six years. There were, on average, 227 automotive patents related to AI granted each year from 2000 to 2014. That figure has risen to an average of 3,731 patents since then, reaching 8,360 in 2020.