The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the pressing need for modernisation and the growing importance of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and unmanned systems. 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 Internet of Things in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Lidar for vehicle anti-collision.

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, aircraft powertrain controls, remote controlled drones, and aircraft anti-collision systems are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. UAV swarm control, lidar for vehicle anti-collision, and satellite image smoothing techniques are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are sensor-guided aiming assists and aircraft flight control systems, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the aerospace and defence industry

LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors are used to prevent collision of a vehicle with obstacles or other vehicles. This is achieved by the creation of a 3D map of the surrounding environment, through the use of lasers. The resultant images can then be processed, and any collision threats are subsequently detected, with the vehicle’s operator notified of their presence.

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 90+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of LiDAR for vehicle anti-collision.

Key players in LiDAR for vehicle anti-collision – 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’.

Aptiv is one of the leading patent filers in LiDAR for vehicle anti-collision systems. Many of the patents submitted by Aptiv relating to LiDAR anti-collision systems focus on object identification from the information gained from LiDAR sensors. This is key in order for the data from the sensors to be coordinated in a manner that will allow collision threats to be identified against non-threatening objects. Some other key patent filers in the aerospace and defence industry include Ford Motor , General Motors and Komatsu .

In terms of application diversity, Nio leads the pack. Deere & Co and Toyota Motor stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Wartsila held the top position, followed by BAE Systems , Boeing, Komatsu and Caterpillar.

LiDAR for vehicle anti-collision systems has so far had a sizeable number of patents filed by companies with a primarily commercial market focus. However, defence companies such as BAE Systems and Airbus are also venturing into the field.

To further understand how Internet of Things is disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Thematic Research - Internet of Military Things.

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.