Based on the headlines you might think that Google single-handedly created the self-driving car, but when it comes to patents for autonomous driving technology, the IT giant is no match for Robert Bosch, Toyota and Volkswagen.
Since 2010, Bosch has applied for 2,710 patents related to autonomous driving followed by Toyota’s 2,061. VW ranked third (1,173) with Japanese supplier Denso (1,022) and Honda (882) rounding out the top five.
Where was Google? It ranked 26th with 140 patents, according to figures from Grunecker Patent Attorneys, which specializes in intellectual property law (see PDF, below, right).
The Munich-based firm said, however, that Google is on track to overtake BMW in this key area. The Silicon Valley-based company had 68 patents related to the technology published in 2015, up from six in 2008.
“With this growth rate, Google will soon pass by BMW and catch up to the 15 most important technology firms in the field of autonomous driving worldwide,” Jens Koch, a patent attorney at Grunecker, said in a release.
When the data is broken down by country, German firms ranked No. 1 with 5,390 patent applications followed closely by Japanese companies with 5,354.