With approximately 1,500 U.S. patents on record this year, the employees at Ford are kicking up dust with the rate that they're driving industry-wide innovations. Not only is the number of patents the most of any automaker, it's also a 25 percent increase year-over-year. Additionally, employees at the Blue Oval have submitted 8,000 new inventions in 2016, which is the highest number in the automaker's 113-year lifespan domestically and globally. That calculates out to a 40-percent increase from last year and a 90-percent boost from 2014!
The big numbers don't lie. Even more so, they reflect one of Ford's guiding principles, which is to promote innovation vertically and laterally. “We are living the innovation mindset in all parts of our business across the globe,” Raj Nair, the executive vice president, product development, and chief technical officer at Ford, said in a released statement. “Our employees are delivering exciting new technologies for our customers at record levels. As an auto and mobility company, this is an exciting time, and our employees are aggressively advancing emerging technologies and increasing our mobility patents at record levels.”
Adding in 1,700 patents in other countries, the total number climbs to 3,200 worldwide in 2016. Notably, one of them lays out a vision to equip autonomous vehicles with drones, allowing vehicles to monitor surrounding areas in real-time and detect what lies ahead of one's vantage point.
Speaking to the patent in the same release, Tony Lockwood, Ford's manager of virtual driver systems and autonomous vehicle development, said, “At Ford we are fully engaged in the current climate where inventions and out-side-the-box thinking are being produced rapidly. Ultimately, customers benefit as we open ourselves to new ideas and advance mobility using emerging technologies.” Along with his colleague Joe Stanek, Lockwood was granted a patent for the idea.
Up until early December of this year, over 5,500 Ford employees have submitted invention disclosures; nearly half of that number were first-time inventors. Overall, more than 4,000 new inventors have submitted applications since the beginning of 2015. Bolstering the flow of creativity and ingenuity is TechShop Detroit, a collaboration Ford started with TechShop; the 33,000-square-foot workshop in Allen Park, Michigan provides a platform for aspiring innovators of all degrees to foster ideas, build prototypes and more.
As Ford's inventors and innovators continue to move their ideas forward, stay in the loop by talking to our team at Sound Ford in Seattle, Washington.