Illustrations of driverless cars on highway with city in background Thinkstock, by Chombosan

The Top Filer of Autonomous Vehicle Patents Will Surprise You

As driverless cars technology advances, companies are racing to patent everything from sensors to controls and monitoring systems.

Nearly all the major automotive companies have announced plans to bring self-driving cars to the market in the next decade. Likewise, many of the top tech companies are developing the essential underlying hardware, software, and systems, with giants like Google at the fore.

So, it may come as a surprise that the number one filer of patents for autonomous driving is neither an automaker nor a US-based tech company.

Robert Bosch GmbH, the world's largest supplier of automotive components, filed the most patents for autonomous driving between 2010 and July 2017, according to data compiled by Statista.

Bosch filed nearly double the number of patents (958) compared to the number two company on the list, Audi (516). In fact, German companies scored the top three positions on the list.

Tony Vitolo

Some of Bosch’s recent patent filings are for such technologies as:

  • Controlling autonomous driving mode in an autonomous vehicle
  • Method and apparatus for operating a motor vehicle in an automated driving mode
  • Systems and methods for operating autonomous vehicles using personalized driving profiles 
  • Drive state indicator for an autonomous vehicle

Bosch’s leadership position in patent filings for autonomous driving should perhaps come as no surprise after all. Given its expertise in sensors, hardware, and software—Bosch holds numerous patents in areas such as LiDAR, satellite-based navigation, and infrared (IR) imaging systems—precisely the sorts of technology that autonomous car will depend upon to navigate safely without a driver behind the wheel.

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