OnStar system has 192 patents on the books

(August 30, 2010) DETROIT — Every time OnStar sends one of 143 million e-mails monthly to report what’s happening with an OnStar-equipped vehicle, it’s worth remembering: There’s a patent for that.

In fact, there are 192 patents on the books for OnStar inventions that have helped make driving safer. And more are in the pipeline.

As America commemorates National Inventors Month in August, OnStar continues to encourage its employees to develop ground-breaking technologies for Chevrolet, Buick,  GMC and Cadillac vehicles and enhance the overall driving experience.

In the past 15 years, OnStar has filed 767 patent applications and averages 60 to 70 application filings each year.

OnStar’s 100th patent is credited with saving General Motors Co, about $350 million per year in warranty claims. The Captured Test Fleet program for employees uses OnStar during a new vehicle’s test drive period to collect and send information directly to the test engineers.  The speed at which this data is sent to engineers allows them to make necessary improvements to a vehicle before it goes on sale to paying customers.

“Since its inception, OnStar has promoted a culture of innovation among its employees by trying to maintain a start-up mentality,” said OnStar President Chris Preuss. “We encourage employees in every department to be inventors and we provide them with the tools they need to succeed.”

Another OnStar patent allows deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired people to use OnStar through a TTY (teletypewriter) compatible in-vehicle module. The module allows the driver and passengers to interact with an OnStar advisor as well as TTY users outside of the car.

OnStar Senior Systems Engineer Chris Oesterling, who helped design the OnStar Vehicle Diagnostic service that compiles data from more than 1,600 diagnostic codes,   holds 36 patents and has 48 pending.

“One great aspect of OnStar is they really promote and nurture intellectual property development,” said Oesterling. “It’s fun to create and invent, but it’s even better when you work somewhere like OnStar where people feel safe in their vehicle because of something you added to the service.  It’s pretty cool when someone comes up and says, ‘You helped save my kid’s life.’”

National Inventors Month was established in 1998 by the Academy of Applied Science, United Inventors Association, and Inventors Digest magazine. It was designed to support the innovative spirit of inventors.