Artificial intelligence (AI) self-driving technologies are on the rise in South Korea, as evidenced by a rapidly increasing number of patent applications filed in the Far Eastern country. According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office, local companies filed for 24 patents related to autonomous driving solutions in 2016, a significant increase compared to the previous year when 15 such applications were filed. The volume of related patent applications was stagnating for half a decade until 2016, indicating that Korean companies are ramping up their efforts to develop driverless solutions and are making breakthroughs faster than before.
Firms in the Far Eastern country applied for just over a hundred of self-driving patent applications in the last decade, though that number is expected to be reached much sooner in the following ten-year period as the autonomous driving race is heating up and more companies are looking to develop products and services related to driverless vehicles, a technology that many industry watchers tout as the next big thing that will change modern societies. The leading self-driving company in South Korea based on the number of related patent applications is the Hyundai Motor Group that accounted for 34 out of 104 filings in the last year. The Seoul-based chaebol is followed by Hyundai Mobis and Mando who applied for 19 and 10 self-driving patents in the same period, respectively. The Electronics & Telecommunications Research Institute was granted seven such patents since 2007 while LG Electronics won five, with the Korea University and Hyundai Autron having been awarded four each. Samsung Electronics applied for three such patents in the last decade, though recent reports indicate that the company is putting an increased focus on developing self-driving technology in the future and will likely be more active in this field going forward.
Korean authorities recently stated their intentions to loosen self-driving regulations in an effort to promote further advancements of this emerging technology in the country, with some of them fearing that local tech companies and automakers will fall behind in the autonomous driving race that's currently being led by Silicon Valley giants like Waymo and Tesla. An update on the advancements in the self-driving industry is expected to follow shortly.