Wearable devices are among Ford's inventions in 2015. Image courtesy of Ford.

Wearable devices are among Ford's inventions in 2015. Image courtesy of Ford.

Ford employees delivered so many new inventions in 2015 that the company achieved a record number of new patents, many fueled by the automaker’s Ford Smart Mobility initiative.

Ford employees submitted nearly 6,000 new inventions in 2015, the company said. A large number are related to autonomous and connected vehicles, wearable devices, eBikes, navigation, ride-sharing platforms and other technologies. Submitted inventions increased 36 percent from 2014.

These include technologies to help autonomous vehicles detect other vehicles at obstructed intersections, as well as technologies to alleviate range anxiety in electrified vehicles and to extend range in real-world driving, Ford said. Another new invention, designed for cyclists, allows riders to report road obstacles to help other riders.

“Our engineers and scientists are inventing ways to address mobility challenges more than ever – with more patent applications filed this year on car-sharing, wearables, bikes, cloud computing and in other areas to improve consumers’ lives inside and outside the car,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president and chief technical officer. “By hosting – and participating in – more internal hackathons and innovation labs, our employees are stepping up to show that inventing is a priority for leadership in the industry.”

Ford Smart Mobility is the company’s plan to use innovation to reach the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics.

The past year’s record-breaking output of inventions features thousands of technologies that enable key advancements in connectivity, analytics, wearables, electrification and safety, Ford said.

For example, a new bike system can detect bike lanes and alert cyclists of path deviations. Another one would suggest a safe vehicle speed based on nearby infrastructure, average vehicle speed and GPS data. A new front brake light technology would improve vehicle-to-vehicle and autonomous driving-to-pedestrian communication.

Recently, Ford showcased its patent portfolio by licensing robotic test driving technology, which saves time and spares human test drivers from such physically demanding tasks as driving over curbs and through potholes to prove vehicle durability.