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The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by developments in artificial technology and machine learning, and growing importance of technologies such as drones, satellite technology and big data. 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 Artificial Intelligence in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Satellite image mosaicing. 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 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, machine learning for autonomous navigation, battery thermal management system, and satellite image mosaicing are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. 3D image segmentation, AV on-board control systems, and lidar for 3D object detection are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas is sensor-guided aiming assists, which is now well established in the industry. 

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

Satellite image mosaicing is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Satellite imagine mosaicing is a method of combining a number of images gathered from space-based satellites to create a larger image.

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 satellite image mosaicing.

Key players in satellite image mosaicing – 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 satellite image mosaicing

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Pictometry International 54 Unlock Company Profile
Maxar Technologies 37 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 29 Unlock Company Profile
EagleView Technologies 21 Unlock Company Profile
Eagle View Technologies 21 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 18 Unlock Company Profile
Israel Aerospace Industries 12 Unlock Company Profile
AeroVironment 9 Unlock Company Profile
AirWorks Solutions 9 Unlock Company Profile
Nearmap 9 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 8 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm Holdings 8 Unlock Company Profile
Geomni 8 Unlock Company Profile
SZ DJI Technology 7 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Forever Technology 6 Unlock Company Profile
International Business Machines 5 Unlock Company Profile
State Gridoration of China 5 Unlock Company Profile
L3Harris Technologies 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Maxar Technologies is one of the leading patent filers in satellite image mosaicing. The company produces space systems and works with NASA to develop space-based communications. The company integrates multiple data sources including images, and utilises its array of satellites as well as technology to provide satellite image mosaicing solutions. The second largest patent filer in the sector is Thales, which is likely filing patents to boost its satellite capabilities. While the company is so far focused on communications, its patent filings suggest that it will expand its capabilities in coming years. Some other key patent filers in the industry include EagleView Technologies, Microsoft, Israel Aerospace Industries, and AeroVironment.  

In terms of application diversity, AirWorks Solutions is the leader, followed by Nearmap and IBM. By geographic reach, Thales is first, followed by Nearmap in second and L3Harris in third. 

Satellite image mosaicing has significant defence applications, and can provide greater ISR capabilities for military forces. There has been significant development in the commercial sector but the placement of companies including Thales, AeroVironment and IAI suggests that there is increasing military realisation.     

To further understand how artificial intelligence is disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Thematic Research: 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.