Automotive and tech firms are poaching each other's talent to pull ahead in the driverless car race

Rebecca Smith
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Google's self-driving car out for a spin
Google's self-driving car out for a spin (Source: Getty)

Automotive and IT firms are poaching each other’s talent in a bid to nudge ahead in the driverless car race, according to research by CPA Global.

Its analysis found that more than 20 patent inventors have made the switch from automotive to IT companies or vice versa since 2008, with Google’s self-driving car programme serving as a springboard.

CPA Global assessed more than 230,000 US patents to gauge whether the future of the automotive industry – notably regarding driverless cars – belongs to tech or auto firms.

Focusing on the likes of Ford, GM, Tesla, BMW and Toyota among the automakers and Amazon, Google, Huawei, Uber and Samsung as some of the IT firms, the research identified 25 career transitions between the two industries – most of which were from IT to automotive companies.

Inventor timeline of transfer-in
(Source: CPA Global)

It also noted that the level of talent transfer is likely to be even larger as movements outside of the selected companies were not considered, nor inter-country moves.

The sample indicated that Hyundai, GM and Ford were leading the way attracting talent from tech firms. Six inventors have moved from Samsung to Hyundai, while Elon Musk’s Tesla has pinched an inventor from Apple. Their various areas of expertise – in hardware development of power electronics, wireless communications, data processing and sensor technologies – reflect the skills such firms are after.

Over the last ten years Google has been the most consistent technology company in attracting expertise from the auto industry.

Four particular technologies are in demand from both automakers and IT firms, according to CPA Global. These – innovation relating to safety, communications, automation and car entertainment – it predicts, will play a significant role in the future of automotive.

While both industries are looking to nab talent from the other in “a land grab for control”, collaboration is also beginning to emerge, such as Google and Hyundai's discussions on working together to produce fully self-driving cars by 2030.

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