Commentary

Waymo Takes Big Lead In Self-Driving Car Patents; GM, Ford Follow

While Uber and Volvo made noise with their joint deal on self-driving cars this week, neither is tearing up the track when it comes to patents for autonomous vehicles.

Earlier this week, Volvo announced that Uber agreed to buy up to 24,000 self-driving cars from the automaker starting at the beginning of 2019, as I wrote about here (Uber Buying 24,000 Self-Driving Cars From Volvo).

However, a new analysis of the flings of patents relating to autonomous driving show Volvo and Uber both way behind even traditional automakers such as GM, Ford and Honda.

Leading, by a lot, is Alphabet’s Waymo, with the Google parent’s team racking up more than 2,000 patents filed, according to the analysis by LEK Consulting.

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The closest to Waymo in patent filings is GM, with around half as many, with Volvo and Uber not even in the same ballpark.

Volvo has filed 430 patents and Uber 66. Tesla has barely a handful. Here’s the breakdown of patents filed by company, according to TEK:

  • 2,118 – Waymo
  • 1,160 – GM
  • 944 – Ford
  • 870 – Honda
  • 809 – Hyundai
  • 716 – Toyota
  • 620 – Daimler
  • 604 – Nissan
  • 535 – Volkswagen
  • 430 – Volvo
  • 401 – Mitsubishi
  • 159 – Renault
  • 66 – Uber
  • 39 – Mazda
  • 10 -- BMW
  • 5 -- Tesla

Patents or not, the Uber deal to get 24,000 self-driving cars is still one of the largest to date.

Depending on who ends up using which technologies, Google’s parent yet again may be in a prime position to cash in, this time on licensing fees.

2 comments about "Waymo Takes Big Lead In Self-Driving Car Patents; GM, Ford Follow".
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  1. R MARK REASBECK from www.USAonly.US , November 21, 2017 at 7:59 p.m.

    Just sitting back watching the billions of dollars wasted on this nonsense.
    First, who wants to be seen in a vehicle that looks like the Ghost Buster hearse?
    What about the car that debted in Vegas a month ago that crashed in 2 hours?
    Uber might be the big winner here to go driverless because apparently they don't have
    enough technology sources to vet their drivers on criminal background checks.  Just got an $8,600,000. fine in Colorado.   AND STILL, no one EVER says how much these clusters of plastic circuit boards add to the price of the car .

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, November 21, 2017 at 8:25 p.m.

    Good points, Mark. Looks like first uses will not be personal but rather businesses deploying them essentially as driverless taxis.

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