Daydreaming and Data Mining for Indy 500 Weekend
The 99th running of the Indy 500 is just days away and thousands will be cheering on the latest automotive technology deployed at dizzying speeds. But first, this Vette lover will be checking out the Corvette Z06 pace car with Jeff Gordon at the wheel. I’m jealous for sure.
Corvettes are legendary for state-of-the art speed technology, but some of GM’s non-speed related equipment can get drivers like you and me into trouble faster than you can say “street legal.” Check out the video (taken from a Corvette’s built-in camera) showing a group of Houston Vette owners recording their exploits. I’m sure the local police appreciated their help with documentation for the arrests.
The idea of built-in cameras and other gadgets got me to wondering about GM’s innovation focus these days. How much relates to the incredible combustion engine technology used in Indy cars to produce up to 700 horsepower at 12,000 rpm?
Now, would I pass up a chance to mix daydreaming about fast cars with my work?
There’s nothing that comes close to the capabilities of Patent Analytics to this high level perspective of innovation, so I started noodling. I pulled out a sample pool of over 6,500 patent families  for the past 12 months and used this for our analysis. After some data interpretation, here is a chart of the results:
The red bars show overt innovation related to the key aspects of hybrid electric and purely electric vehicles. And if you are wondering why there are no numbers in this graph, I’ve simplified because the relationship of the results is more significant than the numbers.
On to a few observations about GM’s patent activity:
The winner is
Computing & Data takes the pole position! Having the largest showing makes perfect sense for our highly automated and electrified vehicles.
The hits in the Traffic Assistance category are much smaller than I expected given recent advances in this area (e.g. lane control) and including driverless cars. Is Traffic Assistance not a GM priority?
Transmission; gearing – Wow! Much higher than anticipated.
The red bars showing hybrid and electric activity do indicate a reasonable amount of attention, but I anticipated a stronger return. My educated guess is that innovation in this area is almost certainly masked within the other data.
My editor is not into what’s under the hood, but she was excited by the high level of patent activity for Body Parts. I believe she is looking forward to the next generation of cup holders. Oh well, something for everyone.
Does this chart surprise you? Does the emphasis match the advancements you would like to see at the auto shows or in your garage?
More about Patent Analytics
Patent Analytics provide a high-level overview of a technology segment, allowing a numerical analysis not easily duplicated by other means.
Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com (no permission required for reuse per NASCAR.com)