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Patent applications for self-driving vehicles surge in Europe: study

Patent applications for self-driving vehicles surge in Europe: study

Self-driving car

(MUNICH) - Innovation in self-driving vehicles (SDVs) is accelerating fast and could signal the coming of a transport revolution, according to a new study published Tuesday by the European Patent Office (EPO).

According to the EPO study - carried out in co-operation with the European Council for Automotive R&D (EUCAR) - the number of European patent applications related to autonomous driving has grown 20 times faster than other technologies in recent years.

From 2011 to 2017, patent applications at the EPO for autonomous driving increased by 330%, compared to 16% across all technologies in the same period, according to the study, titled “Patents and self-driving vehicles”.

In the past ten years, the EPO received some 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 EPO, including the top four applicants, are not traditional automotive/transport companies, but information, communication and technology (ICT) firms.

"Automotive and digital technologies are both traditionally very innovative sectors and the report shows that there is a crossroads where the two sectors meet which is marked by significant changes in its patent landscape," said EPO President Antonio Campinos.

As patents are filed ahead of the appearance of products in the market place, information from patents can offer unique insights into the direction a technology is heading, and which companies and countries are in the lead," he added. “The study shows that Europe is well positioned in the key technologies related to self-driving vehicles.”

Patents and self-driving vehicles


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