Daily Management Review

Europe overtakes US by number of patents for self-driving car technologies


Europe has overtaken America and left Asia far behind by the number of applications for patents related to self-driving cars, the European Patent Office (EPO) calculated.

The most active developers of technology for autonomous driving are Americans and Germans: these countries are submitting the largest number of applications for patents related to self-driving cars. But if we look at all the EU countries together, then Europe is the world leader in this breakthrough automotive industry, says EPO

In a study published in November, EPO indicates a sharp increase in the number of patent applications for various aspects of autonomous driving. In 2011, the European office received less than a thousand such applications from all over the world (922), but in 2017 there were almost 4 thousand of them (3998).

During these seven years, over 37 percent of applications came from Europe, about 34 percent - from the United States, and about 29 percent - from Asia. It can be assumed that these figures accurately reflect the balance of power in the field of autonomous driving, because any inventions and developments have to be patented in modern conditions.

After analyzing the content of patent applications, EPO experts came to the conclusion that European developments are most often associated with automated vehicle control and identification systems, with collection of data on the road situation, their analysis and decision making (including interaction with other cars or, for example , automated parking). The greatest strengths of the American developers are communications and computing processes (both computers themselves and software).

However, American developers are strong in many other areas; otherwise the United States would not be the undisputed leader among individual countries. The United States alone submitted one third of all applications (34 percent). The second place was taken by Germany (14.5 percent).

Japan ranked third (about 13.5 percent). Next come South Korea (about 7.5 percent), France and Sweden (5 percent each). Approximately 3 percent were received from China, the UK and the Netherlands. Finland, Switzerland and Austria had 1 to 2 percent in 2011-2017.

The EPO study also lists 25 companies that filed the largest number of patent filings in 2011–2017. The geography and the field of activity of the most active firms in the field of autonomous driving are interesting. It is significant that not a single traditional auto builder has entered the top five: they have all given way to manufacturers of electronics, chips, telecommunications and computer equipment.

The most innovative technologies for unmanned vehicles were developed in the past years by Samsung (South Korea), Intel (USA), Qualcomm (USA), LG (South Korea) and Bosch (Germany). The first classic car company, Toyota (Japan), appears in the list only in 6th place, the second automaker, Volvo (Sweden), is only in 14th place, behind, in particular, the Finnish manufacturer of telecommunications equipment Nokia and the American software manufacturer provide Microsoft.

source: dw.de