The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and the growing importance of technologies such as drones, satellite technology, and big data. In the last three years alone, there have been over 237,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defense industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial intelligence in defense: 3D position detection. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

110 innovations will shape the aerospace and defense industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry using innovation intensity models built on over 206,000 patents, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, precision imaging drones, aircraft maintenance AI, and AI video analytics are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Aerial imaging, autonomous flight controls, and surveillance AI are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily.

Innovation S-curve for artificial intelligence in the aerospace and defense industry

3D position detection is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

3D position detection refers to the process of using various sensors, including cameras, light detection and range (LiDAR) systems, and structured light depth systems, to detect an object's position in three-dimensional space. This technology is commonly used in autonomous vehicles for navigation and obstacle avoidance.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 300+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of 3D position detection.

Key players in 3D position detection – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defense industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.  

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’. 

Patent volumes related to 3D position detection

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Huawei Investment & Holding 38 Unlock Company Profile
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance 25 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 55 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 51 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 31 Unlock Company Profile
Konecranes 23 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson & Johnson 21 Unlock Company Profile
Topcon 80 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 328 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 94 Unlock Company Profile
Pictometry International 21 Unlock Company Profile
Hexagon 55 Unlock Company Profile
Halliburton 28 Unlock Company Profile
Extreme Networks 21 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 27 Unlock Company Profile
Aptiv 47 Unlock Company Profile
Faro Technologies 118 Unlock Company Profile
TomTom 37 Unlock Company Profile
Meta Platforms 33 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 23 Unlock Company Profile
Koninklijke Philips 30 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 26 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 43 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 21 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 66 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 23 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 108 Unlock Company Profile
Tencent 19 Unlock Company Profile 66 Unlock Company Profile
NVIDIA 88 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 33 Unlock Company Profile
LG 30 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 26 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 28 Unlock Company Profile
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 27 Unlock Company Profile
Microvision 28 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 31 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 36 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 78 Unlock Company Profile
Furukawa 28 Unlock Company Profile
Didi Global 61 Unlock Company Profile
SZ DJI Technology 35 Unlock Company Profile
Guangdong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications 30 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 70 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing TuSimple Future Technology 26 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen Goodix Technology 29 Unlock Company Profile
Luminar Technologies 22 Unlock Company Profile
Ai 24 Unlock Company Profile
Here 64 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 38 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Baidu is one of the leading patent filers in 3D position detection. The Chinese tech giant filed several patents related to methods and systems of LiDAR localization, 3D point clouds registration, and high-definition map generation for autonomous vehicles, using convolutional neural network (CNN) and conditional random field (CRF) models. Some other key patent filers in this space include Faro Technologies, Sony Group, and Alphabet.

In terms of application diversity, Ai Incorporated, Intel, and NVIDIA are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, some of the leading patent filers include Pictometry International, Shenzhen Goodix Technology, and Microvision.

Although most of the patents filed in AI-based 3D position detection and estimation are targeted for commercial applications, the technology, for its superior capability, is expected to witness rapid deployment in unmanned ground and aerial vehicle (UGV/UAV) operations in the defense sector.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Defense.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.