Given Google’s apparent lead in driverless car technology, you might imagine that the tech giant has notched-up the greatest number of patents in the field, but Reuters says that this isn’t the case. A detailed analysis of patent filings for autonomous car technology shows that car manufacturers are way out ahead, with Google only taking 26th place.

Toyota is, far and away, the global leader in the number of self-driving car patents, the report found. Toyota is followed by Germany’s Robert Bosch GmbH, Japan’s Denso Corp, Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co and General Motors Co. The tech company with the most autonomous-driving patents, Alphabet Inc’s Google, ranks 26th on the list.

Toyota has more than 1,400 patents in the field, twice as many as second-placed Robert Bosch …

Of course, sheer patent numbers tell us nothing about their content, so this may simply be a case of quantity versus quality, but it certainly shows that mainstream car manufacturers recognize the importance of the tech.

Toyota says that it is taking a step-by-step approach, focusing for now on driver aids rather than on fully autonomous cars.

A Toyota spokesman said the automaker views a fully self-driving car as a long term goal, but one that must wait for autonomous driving systems that never make a mistake. In the meantime, Toyota is accelerating efforts to equip cars with automatic braking and other safety systems that can help avoid crashes.

There seems a clear consensus that technology and automotive companies will partner on driverless cars. Google has repeatedly said that it has no plans to manufacture its own cars, with one recent report stating that it sees the technology being used as an Uber competitor.

 

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