The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with the conflict in Ukraine driving defence spending and investment, the need to combat emerging technologies such as hypersonics, 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: UAV swarm control. 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.

UAV swarm control is a key innovation area in robotics

A drone swarm is a network of drones controlled either by a remote operator or autonomously using internal processors.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of UAV swarm control.

Key players in UAV swarm control – 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 UAV swarm control

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Intel 65 Unlock Company Profile
Tevel Aerobotics Technologies 43 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 34 Unlock Company Profile
Proxy Technologies 31 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 19 Unlock Company Profile
Genghiscomm Holdings 18 Unlock Company Profile
SoftBank Group 17 Unlock Company Profile 17 Unlock Company Profile
Sunlight Photonics 14 Unlock Company Profile
Kitty Hawk 12 Unlock Company Profile
Walmart 12 Unlock Company Profile
Donecle 12 Unlock Company Profile
SZ DJI Technology 11 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 10 Unlock Company Profile
Israel Aerospace Industries 8 Unlock Company Profile
Liebherr-International 8 Unlock Company Profile
Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson 7 Unlock Company Profile
PABLO AIR 6 Unlock Company Profile
AeroVironment 6 Unlock Company Profile
Robotic Research 6 Unlock Company Profile 6 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 6 Unlock Company Profile
Intellectual Ventures Management 6 Unlock Company Profile
vHive Tech 5 Unlock Company Profile
Rakuten Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 5 Unlock Company Profile
Infinium Robotics 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Intel is one of the leading patent filers in UAV swarm control. The company has developed the technology for use in light shows as well as other commercial applications. Tevel Aerobotics Technologies is the second largest patent filer in UAV swarm control and has also developed the technology for commercial uses including agriculture. Boeing has developed UAV swarm control for military applications, using ScanEagle UAVs and a single operator – though the technology is still in the demonstration phase.  

In terms of application diversity, Robotic Research is the largest company, while Israel Aerospace Industries and Sony Group are in second and third positions, respectively. By geographic reach, Tevel Aerobotics Technologies is the top company, followed by Donecle and Israel Aerospace Industries.  

Whilst many of the existing patent filings are commercial, the technology has significant military applications and investment by companies including Boeing and Israel Aerospace Industries demonstrates this.

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.