Samsung Electronics has filed the largest number of patent applications related to autonomous driving in Europe, according to a report released by the European Patent Office (EPO).
Samsung was followed by two other semiconductor companies, which indicates that autonomous driving is emerging as a new battleground for semiconductor companies.
According to the EPO's latest report on patents and self-driving vehicles, Samsung Electronics filed 624 applications for patents related to autonomous driving between 2011 and 2017. It was followed by Intel (590), Qualcomm (361), LG Group (348), Bosch (343) and Toyota (338).
It is notable that patent applications by information and communication technology (ICT) companies such as semiconductor producers and electronics makers were much more active than traditional automobile manufacturers. Only three automobile manufacturers, including Bosch (5th), Toyota (6th) and Continental (10th), made the top 10 list. Also, only seven automotive manufacturers made it to top 25, including Audi (17th), Honda (20th) and Nissan (25th).
By country, Europe (37.2%) and the United States (33.7%) lead R&D on autonomous driving. South Korea (7%) was ahead of China (3%) but was behind Japan (13%).
The number of patent applications related to self-driving vehicles also surged from 922 in 2011 to 3,998 in 2017, an increase of 4.3 times in six years. Considering that patent applications related with other technologies increased only 16% on average in the same period of time, the growth rate is fairly steep. The number of patent applications exceeded 1,000 for the first time in 2012 (1,121 cases). It reached 2,603 in 2015, 3,173 in 2016, and 3,998 in 2017.