Global telematics patents ‘reflect technology advances for self-driving cars’, says report

Out-Law News | 22 Jan 2015 | 5:34 pm | 1 min. read

An increasing number of the world’s car manufacturers are moving ahead with research and deployment of telematics and driver assistance systems for future connected and self-driving cars, according to a new report.

The analysis of global patent applications by Thomson Reuters IP & Science, ‘The State of Innovation in the Automotive Industry 2015’ (11-page / 2.87 MB PDF), said Asian and German businesses dominated the top 10 companies for patent applications, while GM was the only US company making the report’s list, ranked as seventh.

There are representatives from Japan (Toyota, Honda, Denso, Seiko Epson, Mitsubishi), South Korea (Hyundai), Germany (Bosch, Daimler, Continental) and the US (GM) in the top 10, the report said. “These companies represent 20% of all the filings that take place within the automotive industry,” it said.

The report studied patent applications and mapped trends in areas including propulsion, navigation, handling, safety and security, and entertainment. The automotive sector has seen the number of patent filings worldwide grow by double-digits year-on-year over the past five years.

The report said: “Cars that drive themselves are part of the science fiction landscape... but recent advances, most publicly by Google, demonstrate that the future of autonomous driving may be closer than previously thought. Experts claim the technology is still decades away from being viable in all traffic conditions, but there has still been a great deal of innovation taking place in the field.”

However, the report said: “While Google may get the majority of the headlines related to autonomous driving, it is actually Toyota, GM and Hyundai that are filing the most patents in this area. GM in particular has shown an amazing increase in interest with the most documents published in 2013.”

Two US-based organisations that represent some of the world’s biggest car manufacturers said last year that they had reached agreement on privacy standards for securing the large amounts of data generated by computers and tracking systems used in vehicles.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Global Automakers jointly unveiled a set of privacy protection ‘principles’ that commit car manufacturers to “take certain steps to protect the personal data generated by their vehicles” and instil data privacy confidence for motorists.

Last December, a European Commission survey found that 51% of consumers in the EU would be willing to have a connected vehicle, while 38% said their acceptance would be subject to data anonymity or the ability to opt in to data connection services.

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