Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR), the eyes of self driving, actively being participated in by domestic startups

2020/02/12

Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR), the eyes of self driving, actively being participated in by domestic startups

-Increase in patent applications filed by startups and small and medium-sized businesses-

 

 

This year’s revolutionary world-wide iconic products were exhibited in the CES 2020 home appliance and IT exhibition held in Las Vegas, Nevada (USA) on January 7, 2020. It is no longer news to people that self driving vehicles were being exhibited at CES, showing that the concept of these vehicles is already part of our lives. In accordance with such tendency, filings of patent applications related to a key self driving technology, Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR), have been competitively increasing.

 

LiDAR is a surveying device which can precisely recognize shapes and distances between surrounding objects using light, much like radar uses electromagnetic waves. Often called “the eyes of automatic driving vehicles” since it can also recognize objects at night or backlit objects precisely compared to cameras, LiDAR takes a key functional role in the self driving field. Until now, LiDAR has not been widely utilized for self driving vehicles because of its protruding shape outside of a car body and high price; however, recently research on new shapes for these vehicles and cost reduction technologies for production are actively being conducted due to all the attention towards self driving vehicles, and accordingly, patent competition is raging in order to occupy related rights in advance.

 

The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) states that filings of patent applications related to LiDAR have been dramatically increasing over the last 10 years (from 2009 to 2018). From 2009 to 2011, application filings related to LiDAR involved merely about 20 cases a year; however, the number doubled in 2012 to 42 cases and after that it can be seen that the number increased 6 times to 121 cases in 2017. 

*Ranking of applicants who filed the most of the many applications: SOS LAB, Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Mobis, Korea Electronics Technology Institute (KETI), LG Electronics, Hyundai Motor Company, Qualcomm, Robert Bosch GmbH, Valeo, Hamamatsu, YUJIN ROBOT Co.,Ltd., Waymo LLC, etc.

 

Large companies, startups, small and medium-sized businesses, and foreign companies all increased their filings of applications, with startups and small and medium-sized businesses especially leading the high increase. Until 2014, startups and small and medium-sized businesses filed less than 10 patent applications cases, but in 2015, they filed more than 20 applications and recently it can be seen that they are filing more than 30 applications annually. From such tendency, it is analyzed that startups and small and medium-sized businesses are more likely to have creative ideas for designing new shapes and developing associated cost reduction technologies.

 

<Annual Patent Application Filing Status related to LiDAR* (from 2009 to 2018)>

 

 

* Status of patent application filings: Filing statistics are described based on those cases which were published since 18 months have passed after their respective filing dates (unpublished cases filed in 2018 were excluded).

 

 

Research reveals that application filings related to self driving vehicles comprised 65% of LiDAR-related applications, and filings in fields besides self driving vehicles took 35%.

 

In the field of self driving vehicles, filing applications related to signal processing for self driving (28%) and LiDAR internal component chips (10%) have been increasing. Specifically, in the field of signal processing for self driving, mostly applications related to signal processing technology for recognizing the driving environment are being filed. In the field of LiDAR structure and control, mostly applications related to rotary LiDAR technology are filed, and in the field of LiDAR internal component chips, mainly applications related to light receiving element are filed. However, recently, applications have been filed which are related to technology for devices controlling the angle of fixed- type LiDAR beam irradiation.

 

In fields other than self driving vehicles, it is found that LiDAR technology is being utilized in various fields such as traffic safety, unmanned drones, unmanned mobility, cellphones, security monitoring, headsets, leisure, etc. Mainly, LiDAR technology is being used in the fields of traffic safety and unmanned drones, for example for pedestrian safety devices indicating surrounding traffic status or for systems supporting vessel entry and departure information by using unmanned drones.

 

<Filing Patent Application Status related to LiDAR for self driving vehicles by technological field (from 2009 to 2018)>

 

 

* Status of patent application filings: Filing statistics are described based on those cases which were published since 18 months have passed after their respective filing dates (unpublished cases filed in 2018 were excluded).

 

 

The chief of the self driving examination bureau in KIPO anticipates, “The tendency of developing LiDAR technology for its commercialization will be principally continued by startups and small and medium-sized businesses in the field of self driving vehicles. In fields besides self driving vehicles, the range of fields utilizing LiDAR technology will grow towards fields which improve people’s safety and convenience.”

 

[Source: KIPO]

 

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