Toyota, Bosch, Denso, Hyundai, GM & Nissan Lead the World in Self-Driving Auto Innovation

Intellectual property analysis finds auto industry establishment far-outpacing dedicated tech companies on autonomous vehicle technology development

Jan 06, 2016, 00:01 ET from Thomson Reuters IP & Science

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- To the list of infamous automotive proving grounds – Nurburging, Le Mans, Silverstone, Daytona – we must now add Las Vegas, home of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the flashpoint for the hottest area of auto industry innovation: self-driving automobiles.  According to a new report from the Intellectual Property and Science business of Thomson Reuters, there were more than 22,000 new inventions related to self-driving automobiles between 2010 and 2015, with some clear leaders already emerging in the space.

The new research note, 2016 State of Self-Driving Automotive Innovation, analyzes global innovation activity in the field of self-driving automobiles over the last five years to identify the world's leaders in new technology development and make predictions about the future of driverless cars.  Following were some of the highlights:

  • Established Auto Industry Players – Not Silicon Valley – Are Leading the Charge: Auto industry bellwethers, such as Toyota, Bosch, Denso, Hyundai, GM and Nissan, are the global leaders in self-driving vehicle innovation. Toyota alone has patented over 2,000 new driverless tech inventions in the last five years, double the number two player Bosch.
  • Asia Gets Serious About Automation: Asia is the clear leader in the field with 11 of the world's top 20 self-driving vehicle innovators hailing from the continent.
  • Field is Ripe for Partnership: While auto industry forerunners dominate the category, a number of more specialized technology and research institutions have amassed a noteworthy collection of self-driving vehicle-related patents. Among them, LG, Samsung, Google, Boeing, IBM, Amazon, Carnegie Mellon and MIT have all contributed significant new intellectual property in the category over the last five years.
  • Apple Primed for Auto Deal with Tesla: Thomson Reuters IP & Science analysts predict that Apple will make a similar collaboration announcement after CES; although Apple is not a leading innovator in this field—with only one invention overall in the area of self-driving vehicles—a partnership with Tesla would be a predictable move for both companies, based on a thorough review of both companies' patent portfolios.

"Although driverless vehicles won't be ruling the roads in 2016, data shows that they will likely become a reality in the years to come. Our fascination with this emergent technology continues to abound. There was a time when it was difficult to imagine the ability to get from one point to another in a vehicle without being completely alert and in control of the automobile. But if we've learned anything in the 21st century, it's that technology seems to be boundless, as long as you have the right collaborators at the helm," said Vin Caraher, president Thomson Reuters IP & Science. "Our analysis of the patent activity shows some predictable leaders and some surprises. It will be compelling and exciting to watch how their inventions unfold in the year ahead."

The analysts compiled the report using the Thomson Reuters Derwent World Patents Index (DWPI) database to study inventions within the automobile industry issued in published patent applications and granted patents from January 1, 2010 through October 31, 2015.

To read the full report, visit

Learn more about the DWPI.

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SOURCE Thomson Reuters IP & Science