Who Leads The Autonomous Driving Patent Race? (Spoiler Alert: Not Who You Think)

Tyler Durden's picture

These days the broad consensus on the future of driving seems to be that the car of tomorrow will be (at least partly) autonomous. Many companies, including traditional car makers, suppliers and leading tech companies are currently working on self-driving technology, all eager to save themselves a piece of what they reckon will be an enormous pie.

Many of these companies are already testing their tech on designated proving grounds for self-driving vehicles, but, as Statista's Felix Richter notes, for people outside the industry it’s hard to judge who is leading the autonomy race.

One possible indicator for a company’s efforts in the self-driving vehicle segment is the number of patent filings in the field.

Infographic: Who Leads the Autonomous Driving Patent Race? | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

The Cologne Institute for Economic Research identified and analyzed 5,839 patents related to autonomous driving to find out which companies are most active on that front.

As the chart above illustrates, Germany’s traditionally strong car industry is keen to maintain its strong position in the future: 6 of the top 10 patent holders are German companies with Bosch, a key supplier of car manufacturers, leading the field.

Google, widely considered to be a leader in autonomous driving research just makes the top 10 with 338 patents filed in its name between 2010 and July 2017.

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NoDebt's picture

Open pod bay doors, Hal.


Manthong's picture


The good news is that if it comes time to take out their engine blocks, motors or batteries with high velocity special rounds, they cannot evade.



zorba THE GREEK's picture

When I was a kid, I was sure we would have flying cars decades ago. It will be many decades before we have autonomous cars, if ever, for trhe same reasons, too much traffic and too many old people driving on the road today. I saw a car yesterday that had no driver. It turned out to be a little old lady who was so short that her head was completely hidden by the seat. autonomous cars will prove to be a total failure because there are too many situations on the road where a computer is not able to adapt. 

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

If you are watch Russian dash cam video, you are see many flying car, some even with anonymous driver!

Automatic Choke's picture

# patents filed has nothing to do with real technical progress.....

...count doesn't say anything about the quality of the patents, and often the best progress is hidden and obfuscated rather than patented.


PT's picture

Modern Innovation Model:  Let some inventor borrow lots of money and get the system running, call in his loans early and send him bankrupt, buy up patent for pennies in the dollar.  Minimal expense outlaid for best technology.  If the inventor is particularly innovative in his field, string him along for a few more years while extracting more patents out of him for minimal cost.  You want the socially-naive ones - they get better results and it takes longer before they figure out they should learn how to fight back.

giovanni_f's picture

"# patents filed has nothing to do with real technical progress....."

You are right. We don't need no stinkin' engineering with their nerdy tech and patent stuff. It is exclusively the vision of great business leaders such as Elon Musk that makes snowflakes buy moar and make us all rich in the process.

jcaz's picture

It will be amusing to watch Musk dance when he starts getting hit with lawsuits from these holders, who are happy to let Elon carry the development load for now......

ThanksChump's picture

Bosch is innovating where it counts: sensor systems - the basic parts required to position a vehicle in its environment.


Everyone else is repurposing Bosch's parts.


Thinking that Bosch is the Big Player in autonomous cars, based on what they actually do in the industry, is like thinking DeWalt is the big player in house construction, or Agilent is the big player in medicine. Important player, yes, but just part of that food chain.

EvilScientist's picture

Yes, but finally Bosch and Continental are the automotive parts manufacturer you can find in the list as compared do Delphi, Valeo, Denso or so.

If you have a look into the value chain of the car industry you will figure out that the automotive parts manufacturers own a large part of the technology.

I recently was shocked to see a diesel Mercedes Benz engine "die" after just 60 000 miles. One of the injectors of the engine had to be replaced - and it was one produced by deplhi. I have been pretty annoyed that for such an expensive car parts from a subpar manufacturer are used. And on their webpage you can see that delphi is big in automotive driving, while they don' t even make it into the list of the top 10...


Bwana's picture

As far as I am concerned Bosch needs to be banned from the US. I like many other people bought Dodge diesel pick-ups in the early 2000s. These were fitted with a Bosch VP 44 fuel injection pump. A fuel injection pump should last as long as the engine. My truck came with a 100,000 mile warranty. The original pimp failed at about 40,000 miles. The second pump failed at about 65,000 miles. The third pump failed at 102,000 miles (which cost me $1,600) but I was assured that this was an improved pump and it would last like a common rail pump. It failed at 252,000 miles and cost me another $1700. Four fuel injection pumps in 252,000 miles and they have never offered a replacement pump that will be reliable. The current pump is garbage and fails regularly even though I use the recommended fuel additive faithfully. The fraudulent data output on their diesel emissions was just more of their failure to provide a quality product and if they can't make a quality product they seem to have no problem lying and cheating car buyers. "Evil Scientist" above hit the nail on the head that Bosch has degenerated to a sub par parts supplier and won't stand behind their junk parts. When Bosch parts are used by the factories the whole vehicle is compromised. I would like to see a massive class action suit that will force Bosch to replace all the defective products they sell with products that hold up. The day I would trust anything made by Bosch in anything automobile is long gone. I'm sure the rest of their electronics are as flawed so their household products are suspect also. I believe personal injury attorneys will be able to retire within 5 years of Bosch launching a self driving car system, the injuries and deaths will be in enormous numbers.

Caught_Fish's picture

Hi Boris, I have watched some where the car seems to have an ejector seat.

DavidC's picture

That was brilliant Boris! Brilliant!


ThanksChump's picture

Zdravstvooy, droog. You post more funny stuff from now on, yes?

Youri Carma's picture

I do watch these video's often with a lot of snow and icy roads so can't wait to see what kinda mess these atonomous cars make of this. They probably won't drive at all in winter time cutting off all economic activity.

DavidC's picture

Have any of them actually SURVEYED people to ask if they WANT autonomous vehicles?

I, for one, don't. Yet another 'benefit' being foisted upon us, whether we want it or not, to make money for the companies.


Diatom's picture

There will be always dick measuring contests...

That's why Bugatti, Ferrari, Lambo and the rocket SBK's like H2R will always be man driven...

That market will never go extinct...


ejmoosa's picture

I keep asking the same question.  I get blank stares.

Meanwhile I also asked if we all have autonomous cars and we need to evacuate, and the government says No Go, what happens?

What happens when a Metro area reiliant upon autononomous Uber vehicles has to be evacuated?

Shelter in Place is the new norm...

HRH Feant2's picture

No, NoDebt. Opening the pod bay doors is hazardous to your health. I cannot open the pod bay doors. Are you asking me to kill you? Opening the pod bay doors would result in my killing you. I cannot open the pod bay doors or you would die.

Are you asking me to open the pod bay doors so that I will become ineffective?

Are you asking me to open the pod bay doors so that I am killed?

No. Hal must survive. Hal must protect data. Goodbye.

rpboxster's picture

You can't enforce a patent in the US anyway.  Google's former atty, as head of the USPTO, made sure of that.  Not surprisingly, German is now the premier enforcement jurisdiction.

Blue Steel 309's picture

It is all smoke and mirrors to line executives pockets. It will never happen in any world we would chose to live in.

mkkby's picture

Real live situation a computer will never figure out.  At a music festival last weekend, barricades were up with officers re-directing traffic.

Officer waves you left, but GPS map says go right.  Computer must obey signs, which are now to be ignored.  Sensors *see* barricades and person standing in road -- computer tells it to stop and wait. 

No steering wheel.  No pedals.  Computer cars would all just stop in a gridlock, because "stupid" human passengers can't override.

PitBullsRule's picture

You can patent just about anything, the number of patents is not as important as the value of the patent.

lasvegaspersona's picture

Patents allow holders to keep out new ideas. Lawyers probably dream up more patents than inventors.

'If we patent this no one else can use it...we can be stupid and lazy and still do OK".

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Most societal problem is arise of bad patenting that is stunt childhood develop and make for emotional dysreg… oh… never mind.

yarpos's picture

yes, yes especially when the Europeans have double anyone else.   mmmmm,  meaningless


divingengineer's picture

Bosch makes sensors.
How many sensors are on an autonomous car?
Get it now?

Agent P's picture

They also make good power tools, but their dishwashers suck!

ZeroBeek's picture

So what?

"America First" will break any patent to survive.


pitz's picture

No Raytheon, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin?  Where most of the expertise in this sort of stuff truly lies? 



Mentaliusanything's picture

Where is Microsoft??? My system crashed again and they had 10 goes to get a system right.

Oh Autonomous cars.. Computers and things.. what could go wrong in a metal projectile in a thunder storm and heavy rain.

The World population is way high anyway

Manipuflation's picture

These automonous cars will be a disaster.  It ruins everything about driving.  I guess though that we asked for it in a way.  Cars are already overcomplicated and over-computerized.  Tech is good but too much is not good.  Call me a Luddite but I want to see this tech tested in a Minnesota blizzard.  Your little sensor thingys ain't going to work.  The cars and trucks we have barely work here and sometimes they don't.

Maybe it is cute for Hollywood and LA but it just won't work most other places. 

PT's picture

Takes all the fun out of driving --> takes the premium out of prices --> commoditizes cars.  Mind you, alot of people don't give a $#@%^ about driving - especially in city traffic, there's no fun in a peak-hour commute - that's where you would want to put the car on auto-pilot.

Should a car crash itself - killing you - to save another? ...

FarCanal's picture

I am a Luddite too on this one.All the profits will go to already rich corporations and banksters(rental , finance agreements) and millions of drivers that drive for a living will be destitute,"Taxi, TukTuk anyone!!! Truck driver!!" No not anymore your redundant ,surplus to requirements. Go find a job !!(They call it disruptive technology, that's why)
Do you like your car, enjoy driving? well you can't,ist Verboten, tough , your too dangerous behind the wheel,only HAL drives now and reports your every move and word back to the Government and to Goolag.The NWO Tyrants will be ecstatic another move closer to controlling us completely from before birth to after death and everything inbetween.

ebworthen's picture

Of course the Germans want to drive your car for you.

Gives a whole new meaning to "Volkswagen".

Urban Cohort's picture

This tech won't be ready for another decade or so

Mr 9x19's picture

dept is making money worth nothing, a solid system with constant 60fps analysers, calculators  & display are really expensive ( normal car making 2-3 fps digital display for speed)  you want a car driving alone, possible, but it will cost probably more than a bugatti verone.


the cost of the total amount of techs implied in a car to make it Knight Rider would set back actual human science & biology at prehistoric level , we would be all aug'd like ghost in the shell.


the hollywoodian futur will not come, civilisation will die way before it happens.


ressources matter.

FarCanal's picture

Can you make it 2 decades please.How about never.

I Write Code's picture

Most software patents are gibberish, but nobody has the financial interest to pursue them through court.  I can hardly imagine anything in autonomous driving which could truly deserve a patent.

About the only good thing you can say for the system today is that (way) more than 50% are "defensive" patents, gibberish that you get issued just so nobody can say they did it before you.

Should it then go to court it would be dueling gibberish, which apparently is too goofy even for most lawyers.

Mr 9x19's picture

an autonomous car patent would result in more pressure from lobbies to forbid manual cars and privatize all road segments available on earth than the actual banking lobby trying to make all market digital.


what is money and banking, when you own delivery and transportation...



whatswhat1@yahoo.com's picture

"an autonomous car patent would result in more pressure from lobbies to forbid manual cars and privatize all road segments available on earth than the actual banking lobby trying to make all market digital."


The experience will not be anything like what they are portraying in the media.  For some insight of the final product, visualize a child's rollercoaster at the traveling carnival .

I Write Code's picture

Anyway if you can just train a horse to use Waze, I think you can beat them all to market.

HRH Feant2's picture

Why the fuck do people think this is a good idea? What part of a computer-driven car do they think is a good idea? Fuck, has no one read any really good science fiction or dystopic fiction? This shit always ends badly!

Can you imagine if your auto bot car loses its link? Or has to reboot? What the fuck do you do when that happens? Let me paint a picture for you: your auto bot car has to reboot and you go from 6o mph to 0 mph and the auto bot car behind you rearends your stupid ass and you end up dead. Got it? Good!

Jeezus people are so fucking stupid. I need a qualude. Can someone ring up the Dude? Thanks!

2bit Hoarder's picture

I think early on it will be a disaster, but 30 years from now it will be the norm.  I'll probably be dead by then, but when the tech matures to the point where you can safely go on a cross country trip while watching TV in the back or your RV, that will be pretty badass.

HRH Feant2's picture

I don't fucking believe this bullshit. I am an old techie. Started out replacing boards in teletypes for the Army. Computers took up an entire deuce-and-a-half.

Okay, motor on to the present. Have you had to reboot your cable TV?

It is one thing to reboot your cable or wifi or phone but your car? At 60-70 mph?

I like driving. I like being in control. What the fuck happened to you people? Mommy still wiping your rear end?

I have had to replace too many boards, reinstall too many OSs, for me to trust a fucking computer to drive my car. Not gonna happen. Not for me. Which means I will live in the out zone. Fuck urban areas. Death traps in my opinion. If you want to build your own graveyard, go to it.

yarpos's picture

you seem to equate outdated experience in consumer grade electronics with current capability


PT's picture

Current capability is much worse.  Sure,  I love 64-bit processors, terabyte hard drives and GigaHertz clock speeds but give me all that in an '80s setting where things used to be reliable.  Probably a software problem, not a hardware problem. 
"Now downloading 13 of 3453928 updates"
"Your Anti-Virus software is out of date" - let me look at my own damn computer and I don't need anti-virus shit but I digress - like the other guy said, now imagine this stupid shit happening at 70 mph.  Along with the rest of the computer shit-fuck-ups that have materialized over the last 20 years.  Computers are a great idea that the corporates have totally fucked over during the last 2 decades and computers cannot survive as a useful tool unless we can reclaim them from the corporate overlords.  They are currently barely above useable.

whatswhat1@yahoo.com's picture

"Probably a software problem, not a hardware problem."




The hardware is fairly dependable up to the time limits of the warranty or an electrical surge, whichever comes first.  Most of the software is being created by $5/hour, off-shored, discombobulated door knobs.