The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation. 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: Drone flight control system. Buy the report here.

Smarter leaders trust GlobalData

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 262,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the aerospace and defence industry, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Drone flight control systems is a key innovation area in robotics

UAVs requires flight control software, as well as hardware components which allow a degree of autonomous control as well as human operator control.

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 drone flight control system.

Key players in drone flight control system – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence industry

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

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

Patent volumes related to drone flight control system

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
SZ DJI Technology 27 Unlock Company Profile
Canon 21 Unlock Company Profile
KDDI 14 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 12 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 10 Unlock Company Profile
Secom 10 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone 9 Unlock Company Profile
V-cube Robotics 9 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 9 Unlock Company Profile
SoftBank Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Rakuten Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Technicka Univerzita V Kosiciach 6 Unlock Company Profile
Ntt Docomo 6 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 6 Unlock Company Profile
Furukawa 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

SZ DJI Technology is the leading patent filer in drone flight control systems. The company makes a number of commercial drones including camera drones designed to produce high-quality images. Its miniature series of drones as well as photography drones require precise control, and this is the motivation behind filing patents in this sector. KDDI is the second largest patent filer and has consolidated its industry position by developing technology that will enable a single operator to control multiple drones at a time. The company is developing a variety of infrastructure including technology which will streamline delivery processes and automate it where possible. Some other key patent filers in the drone flight control industry include NEC, Denso, Secom and Hitachi.

In terms of application diversity, KDDI is the largest company, investing in the technology to advance a variety of infrastructure. Hitachi and NEC took the second and third positions, respectively. By geographic reach, SZ DJI Technology has the top position, followed by KDDI and Technicka Univerzita V Kosiciach.

The patents in this sector largely focus on precision control, providing operators with greater capabilities when piloting drones and also enhancing the capabilities of existing drones.

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

Data Insights


The gold standard of business intelligence.

Blending expert knowledge with cutting-edge technology, GlobalData’s unrivalled proprietary data will enable you to decode what’s happening in your market. You can make better informed decisions and gain a future-proof advantage over your competitors.


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.