The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and the growing importance of technologies such as drones, satellite technology, and big data. In the last three years alone, there have been over 237,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defense industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial intelligence in defense: autonomous navigation controls. Buy the report here.

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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 stabilizing 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.

110 innovations will shape the aerospace and defense industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry using innovation intensity models built on over 206,000 patents, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, precision imaging drones, aircraft maintenance AI, and AI video analytics are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Aerial imaging, autonomous flight controls, and surveillance AI are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily.

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

Autonomous navigation controls is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Autonomous navigation controls refer to the systems, devices, and methods used to enable vehicles or robots to navigate and operate autonomously without human intervention. These controls incorporate various technologies such as sensors, communication units, control units, and algorithms to perceive the environment, plan and execute movements, and make decisions for safe and efficient navigation.

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 defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of autonomous navigation controls.

Key players in autonomous navigation controls – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defense industry

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

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

Patent volumes related to autonomous navigation controls

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Huawei Investment & Holding 13 Unlock Company Profile
Israel Aerospace Industries 11 Unlock Company Profile
HL Mando 6 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 7 Unlock Company Profile
United Parcel Service 4 Unlock Company Profile
Volkswagen 3 Unlock Company Profile
Cubic 3 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 42 Unlock Company Profile
Valeo 14 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 49 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 2 Unlock Company Profile
Apple 2 Unlock Company Profile
Tata Sons 4 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 16 Unlock Company Profile
Aptiv 82 Unlock Company Profile
Metal Industries Research and Development Centre 8 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 14 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 22 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 11 Unlock Company Profile
PACCAR 8 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 6 Unlock Company Profile 13 Unlock Company Profile
NVIDIA 7 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 11 Unlock Company Profile
LG 13 Unlock Company Profile
DEKA Research and Development 12 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 2 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 4 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 2 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 15 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 85 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 13 Unlock Company Profile
Sick 7 Unlock Company Profile
Autonomous Solutions 6 Unlock Company Profile
Micron Technology 6 Unlock Company Profile
Brain 5 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 14 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing TuSimple Future Technology 33 Unlock Company Profile
Nuro 2 Unlock Company Profile
Seoul Robotics 8 Unlock Company Profile
NODAR 2 Unlock Company Profile
Agency For Defense Development 7 Unlock Company Profile
Refraction AI 4 Unlock Company Profile
Rivian 2 Unlock Company Profile
ThorDrive 3 Unlock Company Profile
Guident 3 Unlock Company Profile
Yandex Self Driving Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
Uatc 8 Unlock Company Profile
FRABA 5 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is one of the leading patent filers in autonomous navigation controls. The company has filed patents related to the method of navigating an autonomous ground vehicle to support position or course controlling in two dimensions, image sensing, contour mapping and matching, and planning and execution of driving tasks.

IAI is a leading provider of inertial sensors, inertial navigation, and global navigation satellite system (GNSS) anti-jamming solutions such as gyroscopes, navigation electronics, algorithms, and stabilization units.

Some other key patent filers in the autonomous navigation controls space include Boeing, Cubic, and Hanwha Aerospace.

In terms of application diversity, NVIDIA, Boeing, and Honeywell International are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, some of the leading patent filers include IAI, Boeing, and Samsung.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Defense.

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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.