Of the 340,000 AI patents that have been filed since the 1950s, more than half have come since 2013.
The number of new patents for artificial intelligence (AI) has been growing by 28 per cent each year on average since 2012, according to a UN report.
The report named IBM, Microsoft, Toshiba and Samsung as the most active companies in this field.
The transportation sector has seen the fastest growth of AI inventions in the past few years, as manufacturers are racing to develop autonomous vehicles, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) reported on Thursday in Geneva.
Other growth areas include telecommunication systems, robotic surgery, personalised medicine, personal digital devices and cameras.
Based on the patent filings, "we can expect a very significant number of new AI-based products, applications and techniques that will alter our daily lives - and also shape future human interaction with the machines we created," WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said.
These technologies include machine learning, in which software developers design fine-tune systems that understand traffic routes or consumer preferences, as well as deep-learning systems that can improve themselves without human input.
The top five patent holders in this field are based in the United States (IBM, Microsoft), Japan (Toshiba, NEC) and South Korea (Samsung).
The top 20 list is dominated by Japanese companies, but it also includes the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the German industrial groups Siemens.