|Article by Elisabeth Uhlemann|
According to a study published by the European Patent Office (EPO), the number of European patent applications related to automated driving has grown 20 times faster than other technologies in recent years.
The study was carried out in cooperation with the European Council for Automotive R&D. As patents are filed ahead of the appearance of products in the market, information from patents can offer insights into the trends in automated driving technologies.
From 2011 to 2017, patent applications at the European Patent Office for automated driving increased by 330%, compared to 16% across all technologies in the same period.
In the past 10 years, the European Patent Office received approximately 18,000 patent applications related to self-driving vehicles, with nearly 4,000 in 2017 alone.
The study also shows that half of the top 25 companies active in this field at the European Patent Office, including the top four applicants, are not traditional automotive/transport companies but information, communication, and technology firms.
European companies stand out in the fields vehicle handling; smart logistics; and perception, analysis, and decision. US applicants dominate in communication and computing technologies.
Within Europe, self-driving vehicle innovation largely comes from Germany, with 14.4% of all applications in self-driving vehicles in 2011–2017. However, France (4.8%), Sweden (4.7%), and, to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom (2.9%) and The Netherlands (2.8%) also show significant innovative activity.