Patent applications related to LiDAR, a core technology for autonomous vehicles, have increased significantly over the recent 10 years.
The Korean Intellectual Property Office said on Jan. 8 that there were only 20 patents applied for LiDAR from 2009 to 2011, but the number jumped to 42 in 2012 and increased six-fold to 121 in 2017. LiDAR devices use light to navigate around and are usually installed on the roof or body of a vehicle.
Startups and small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) led the growth in patent applications. Startups and SMEs had filed fewer than 10 applications by 2014, but the figure exceeded 20 in 2015 and 30 in recent years.
By application field, 65 percent of the applications are related to autonomous vehicles and 35 percent related to other areas. Patent applications increase in the fields of autonomous driving signal processing (28 percent), LiDAR structure and control (26 percent), and LiDAR built-in devices (10%). LiDAR technology is also used in various areas such as traffic safety, drones, unmanned mobility, mobile phones, security surveillance, headsets, and leisure.
Also, LiDAR technology is most used in the areas of traffic safety and unmanned drone, such as safety devices that inform pedestrians of the surrounding traffic situation and an vessel information system that provides ships with entry and exit information using unmanned drones.