The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with the conflict in Ukraine driving defence spending and investment, the need to combat emerging technologies such as hypersonics, and growing importance of technologies such as AI and computer vision. 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 Robotics in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Collision avoidance for robots.

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, collision avoidance for robots, computer vision for autonomous navigation, and autonomous control systems are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. UAV swarm control, and drone flight control system are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are sensor-guided aiming assists and which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for robotics in the aerospace and defence industry

Collision avoidance for robots is a key innovation area in robotics

Collision detection utilises various systems to survey the vicinity of the robot and detect the presence or absence of a possible collision and then avoid it if necessary.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of collision avoidance for robots.

Key players in collision avoidance for robots – 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’.

Patent volumes related to collision avoidance for robots

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Brain 57 Unlock company profile
LG 33 Unlock company profile
FedEx 33 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 17 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 16 Unlock company profile
Xiaomi 15 Unlock company profile
X Development 13 Unlock company profile
Walmart 12 Unlock company profile
General Electric 9 Unlock company profile
Toro 7 Unlock company profile
Vorwerk 7 Unlock company profile
Qualcomm 6 Unlock company profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Brain is the leading company with regards to patents in collision avoidance. It has patented the technology for use in commercial drones and providing the capability for obstacle identification. The company has also patented the technology for use in robot vacuum cleaner. Another major company in the sector is General Electric, which has also developed the technology for use in drones, as well as for mining vehicles. The largest company by application diversity is Qualcomm, followed by Huawei Investment & Holding, and in terms of Geographic diversity, Xiaomi is the leader, followed by General Electric.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Defence.

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.