The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation. Activity is driven by the conflict in Ukraine, the need to combat emerging technologies, 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: Remote-controlled drone imaging. Buy the report here.

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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. 

Remote-controlled drone imaging is a key innovation area in robotics 

Remote-controlled drone imaging refers to the process of drones carrying out photography or imaging exercises, and patents involve camera quality as well as the drones themselves.   

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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of remote-controlled drone imaging. 

Key players in remote-controlled drone imaging – 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 remote-controlled drone imaging

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
SZ DJI Technology 513 Unlock Company Profile
GoPro 61 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 51 Unlock Company Profile
LG 42 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 40 Unlock Company Profile
Canon 36 Unlock Company Profile
Autel Robotics USA 35 Unlock Company Profile
Parrot 33 Unlock Company Profile
Xiaomi 18 Unlock Company Profile
Loveland Innovations 14 Unlock Company Profile
Skydio 13 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 13 Unlock Company Profile
Casiomputer 13 Unlock Company Profile
Israel Aerospace Industries 13 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 11 Unlock Company Profile
Isolynx 10 Unlock Company Profile
Alps Alpine 9 Unlock Company Profile
AeroVironment 9 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 9 Unlock Company Profile
Motorola Solutions 9 Unlock Company Profile
Cape Productions 9 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 8 Unlock Company Profile
Teledyne Technologies 8 Unlock Company Profile
Guangzhou Xaircraft Technology 8 Unlock Company Profile
Tencent Holdings 8 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm Holdings 7 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 7 Unlock Company Profile
Furukawa 7 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 6 Unlock Company Profile
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan 6 Unlock Company Profile
Aeronext 6 Unlock Company Profile
Nikon 6 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen Daotong Intelligent Aviation Technology 6 Unlock Company Profile
V-cube Robotics 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hanwha 6 Unlock Company Profile
Cloudparc 6 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 5 Unlock Company Profile
Korean Air Lines 5 Unlock Company Profile
OPTiM 5 Unlock Company Profile
GoerTek 5 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

SZ DJI Technology is one of the largest patent filers in remote-controlled drone imaging. The company has a range of small drones and photography drones which can be utilised for commercial or industry purposes. The cameras can produce high-resolution images and have been developed for use by various companies across industries including agriculture. The second largest company is Sony Group, which is a producer of a number of lightweight commercial drones that can be utilised for a variety of purposes. Some other key patent filers in the industry include Samsung, Canon and Autel Robotics USA. 

In terms of application diversity, Isolynx is the largest company, with Guangzhou Xaircraft Technology and Sony Group in second and third places, respectively. By geographic reach, Korean Air Lines ranks first, followed by Israel Aerospace Industries and Xiaomi

While the majority of patent innovation in remote-controlled drone imaging originates in the commercial sector, this will penetrate into aerospace and defence and have significant positive effects on innovation across industries. 

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

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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.