The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by geopolitical competition, environmental concerns, and the growing importance of technologies such as advanced battery chemistries and next-generation avionics. 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 Drones in defense: automated drone battery management. Buy the report here.
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 206,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the aerospace and defense industry, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Automated drone battery management is a key innovation area in drones
Automated drone battery management refers to methods, systems, and technologies for controlling and optimizing the operation and charging of batteries in unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). These systems utilize several methods including monitoring battery states, calculating charging level needs, building charging ‘profiles’, and implementing recipient-assisted recharging processes to efficiently manage the power supply of drones during flight missions. This can derive the greatest efficiency from available power, a crucial application for both the defense and civil markets for drones.
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 80+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of automated drone battery management.
Key players in automated drone battery management – 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 automated drone battery management
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Boeing, a major US aerospace manufacturer who builds drones including the upcoming MQ-25 and MQ-28 UAVs for the US military, has the most patent activity for battery management systems, filing 26 patents from 2015 to 2023. It is followed by two other US companies, Textron and Archer Aviation – the latter working on an electric vertical takeoff and landing (E-VTOL) ‘air taxi’ aircraft, for which efficient battery management is vital for commercializing the air taxi design and meeting safety requirements.
In terms of application diversity however, the UK’s Rolls-Royce leads the pack as it continues to expand its efforts in electric propulsion methods. A German E-VTOL firm, Volocopter, comes second, followed by Boeing. By geographic reach, France’s Safran leads the way, with its GENeUSPACK being just one example of a management system designed for multiple electric vehicle (EV) applications in several global markets. Safran is followed in the scope of its international patent filing by Boeing and Airbus.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Drones in Aerospace and Defense.