Patterns of knowledge development and diffusion in the global autonomous vehicle technological innovation system: A patent-based analysis

Publication Type:

Journal Article


International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd., Volume 19, Number 1-2, p.144-177 (2019)



This study focuses on assessing the knowledge development and diffusion functions of the global autonomous vehicle (AV) technological innovation system (TIS). To that end, this study uses patent portfolio analysis. A comprehensive and dynamic picture is depicted through our evolutionary analysis covering 5,986 AV patents applied for from 1997 to 2016 worldwide, which were assigned to seven relevant sectors (automotive, machinery, aircraft/defence, electronics, information/software service, mobility/logistics service, and research) and focused on five key technology categories (control and actuation, perception and localisation, computation, communication, and system integration). Three key findings from our study are: 1) sectors differ in terms of the amount of knowledge they developed and the distribution of knowledge across technology categories; 2) different sectors and technology categories have uneven roles in the global knowledge diffusion network; 3) knowledge development and diffusion patterns exhibit significant evolutionary tendencies. Our research deepens the current understanding of the dynamics of AV innovation and contributes to TIS theory. Copyright © 2019 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.

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