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: moving target identification (MTI). 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

Moving target identification (MTI) is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Moving target identification (MTI) is a technique used in various industries such as autonomous driving and military applications to detect and classify moving objects within a specified area. MTI utilizes various sensing technologies, such as light and detection ranging (LiDAR) sensors, cameras, and millimeter-wave radars, to detect and track objects, and machine learning algorithms to classify them.

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 150+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of moving target identification (MTI).

Key players in moving target identification (MTI) – 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 moving target identification

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance 9 Unlock Company Profile
AECOM 8 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 11 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 24 Unlock Company Profile
Cubic 7 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 70 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 12 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 12 Unlock Company Profile
Pictometry International 8 Unlock Company Profile
Daifuku 7 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Geely 9 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 6 Unlock Company Profile
Aptiv 35 Unlock Company Profile
Northrop Grumman 10 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 9 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Department of Defence 6 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 16 Unlock Company Profile
NOV 6 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 35 Unlock Company Profile
Bayer 14 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 30 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 20 Unlock Company Profile
Tencent 7 Unlock Company Profile 32 Unlock Company Profile
NVIDIA 18 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 17 Unlock Company Profile
LG 18 Unlock Company Profile
IBM 12 Unlock Company Profile
Accenture 9 Unlock Company Profile
Aon 11 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 9 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 28 Unlock Company Profile
Uber Technologies 7 Unlock Company Profile
Skydio 11 Unlock Company Profile
SZ DJI Technology 18 Unlock Company Profile
Orbital Insight 20 Unlock Company Profile
Turkish Armed Forces Foundation 7 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon 23 Unlock Company Profile
Antarctica Capital 9 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
Cape Analytics 5 Unlock Company Profile
X Development 28 Unlock Company Profile
Stradvision 9 Unlock Company Profile
SOS Lab 6 Unlock Company Profile
Agency For Defense Development 6 Unlock Company Profile
Yembo 19 Unlock Company Profile
Guangzhou Xaircraft Technology 7 Unlock Company Profile
Here 8 Unlock Company Profile
Uatc 21 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 11 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Boeing is one of the leading patent filers in moving target identification. The company has filed patents related to the method and system of reducing the effect of degraded visual environments (DVE) on LIDAR return.   

The LiDAR system effectively eliminates backscatter from the DVE, utilizing a spatial light modulator. It enables the detection of minute quantities of directly reflected photons from a target surface. In cases where the target is not initially detected, the LIDAR undergoes iterative scanning up to its maximum available depth of focus until the target is successfully acquired. This LiDAR system is particularly valuable for the autonomous landing of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aerial vehicles in situations where the anticipated landing location is approximately known but remains obscured by DVE media, such as smoke, dust, fog, or similar conditions.

Boeing was selected by the US Air Force in February 2023 to develop a prototype aircraft as a successor of airborne warning and control system (AWACS) to provide airborne moving target indication, battle management, command and control, and advanced multi-role electronically scanned array (MESA) radar capabilities. .

Some other significant patent filers in the moving target identification space include Thales, Cubic, and Israel Aerospace Industries

In terms of application diversity, NVIDIA, Aurora Operations, and Samsung are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, some of the leading patent filers include Seoul Robotics, Toshiba, and Boeing

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.