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Increasing Trend in Patent Applications Related to Cameras and LiDAR for Autonomous Driving Vehicles

Last July, the European Union implemented a new ‘General Safety Regulations for Vehicles’ that mandate installation of ‘Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)*’ for passenger and pedestrian safety. This rule applies directly to new cars, and from July 2024 it will apply to all new European cars. Accordingly, growth and competition in object recognition-related technologies such as cameras and LiDAR, which are essential elements for implementing ADAS functions, are expected to accelerate.

* Technology that recognizes driving conditions through detection devices such as cameras, radar, and LiDAR, automatically notifies the driver of dangerous situations, and automates some driving functions such as speed control

According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), patent applications for cameras and LiDAR for autonomous driving vehicles in the world's five major countries (IP5) have increased at an average annual rate of 37% over the past 10 years (2011-2020), from 143 cases in 2011 to 2,395 cases in 2020, which is an increase of about 17 times.

Prior to 2013, there were more applications related to LiDAR than those related to cameras, but since then, the number of applications for cameras surpassed those for LiDAR, so 1,525 camera-related cases and 870 LiDAR-related cases were filed in 2020.

This is analyzed to be related to the development of new technologies, such as the combination of artificial intelligence with camera technology for object identification and development of 3D recognition technology through stereo cameras.

Looking at applicants by nationality, Japan occupies the highest ratio in camera technology with 33.2%, followed by China (21.5%), Korea (19.4%), the United States (15.7%), and Europe (6.7%).

In the case of LiDAR technology, the US accounted for 39.7% of applicants, followed by China (14.3%), Japan (13.7%), Europe (13.2%), and Korea (12.8%).

Looking at applicants having multiple applications by technology, traditional automobile and parts manufacturers make up the majority for LiDAR technology, whereas electronic and communication companies are actively filing applications for camera technology.

In the case of camera technology, Sony filed 455 cases (5.9%), followed by Baidu with 405 cases (5.3%), Canon with 325 cases (4.2%), Panasonic with 303 cases (4.0%), Samsung Electronics with 299 cases (3.9%), and LG Electronics with 276 cases (3.6%).

For LiDAR technology, WAYMO had the largest share with 271 cases (5.7%), followed by Hyundai Motors with 248 cases (5.2%), GM with 189 cases (4.0%), Toyota with 125 cases (2.6%), and BOSCH with 120 cases (2.5%), which shows that companies of various nationalities belong to the group of multi-application companies.

As cameras and LiDAR for autonomous driving are being combined with each other so as to develop a fusion of sensor technologies, many technological advances are expected in this field in the future.

[Source: KIPO]


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