The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by developments in artificial technology and machine learning, and growing importance of technologies such as drones, satellite technology and big data. In the last three years alone, there have been over 174,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defence industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial Intelligence in Aerospace, Defence & Security: AI-assisted video analysis.

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 stabilising 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.

180+ innovations will shape the aerospace and defence industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry using innovation intensity models built on over 262,000 patents, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, machine learning for autonomous navigation, battery thermal management systems, and satellite image mosaicing are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. 3D image segmentation, AV on-board control systems, and LiDAR for 3D object detection are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas is sensor-guided aiming assists, which is now well established in the industry. 

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

AI-assisted video analysis is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

AI video analytics uses AI to automatically analyse video footage in real-time to create data interpretation. This can classify information in real-time and identify including people, and objects such as cars and license plates.

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 60+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of AI-assisted video analysis.

Key players in AI-assisted video analysis – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence industry

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

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

Stradvision is the leading patent filer in AI-assisted video analytics and is expanding in the automotive space. It has collaborated with Texas Instruments to demonstrate the technology, and in 2022 launched a new arm to specifically advance video analysis. Ford Motor is the second leading company in the sector and is also developing the technology. It is filing patents in order to advance the development of autonomous vehicles. Other key patent filers in the industry include Baidu , General Motors and Alphabet .

In terms of application diversity, Wing Aviation is the leader, followed by Panasonic and Porsche. By geographic reach, Stradvision is the leader, followed by Aurora Innovation and Bayer .

The technology is being largely advanced in the automotive sector, but has significant defence applications, including automated driving on the battlefield and automatic target recognition. As it advances, it will increasingly proliferate into defence technology.

To further understand how artificial intelligence is disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Thematic Research: AI in Defense

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.