The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by modernization imperatives, dual-use technologies, automation, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud connectivity and materials science. 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 Innovation in defense: self-calibrating scanners. 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, aircraft fuel cell APUs, self-calibrating scanners, and vibration supression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Aircraft ultrasonic inspection, aircraft power distribution network, and contour scanning interferometry are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are precision-guided firearms and aircraft power management, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry

Self-calibrating scanners is a key innovation area in aerospace and defense

Self-calibrating scanners is a catch-all term referring to sensor systems capable of autonomously adjusting their detection and localization capabilities using machine learning in order to continuously optimize its capacity to discern objects or phenomena of interest in a given target environment. Various types of sensors including radar, LiDAR and electro-optronic/infrared (EO/IR) systems can integrate machine learning and thus conduct iterative improvements of their intelligence gathering and surveillance capabilities.

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 250+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of self-calibrating scanners.

Key players in self-calibrating scanners – 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 self-calibrating scanners

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Huawei Investment & Holding 60 Unlock Company Profile
Orica 30 Unlock Company Profile
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance 25 Unlock Company Profile
Koito Manufacturing 18 Unlock Company Profile
NIKE 17 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 44 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 15 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 23 Unlock Company Profile
Israel Aerospace Industries 18 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 31 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 60 Unlock Company Profile
Valeo 52 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 176 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 129 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Geely 20 Unlock Company Profile
Aptiv 153 Unlock Company Profile
Pioneer 19 Unlock Company Profile
TomTom 44 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 26 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 24 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 19 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 34 Unlock Company Profile
Komatsu 45 Unlock Company Profile
Kyocera 20 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 13 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 66 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 66 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 45 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 32 Unlock Company Profile 79 Unlock Company Profile
NVIDIA 21 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 38 Unlock Company Profile
LG 17 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 48 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 26 Unlock Company Profile
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 23 Unlock Company Profile
Wartsila 13 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 14 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 60 Unlock Company Profile
SZ DJI Technology 27 Unlock Company Profile
Nio 32 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 35 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing TuSimple Future Technology 18 Unlock Company Profile 17 Unlock Company Profile
Seoul Robotics 13 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 32 Unlock Company Profile
Here 20 Unlock Company Profile
Intelligent Agricultural Solutions 14 Unlock Company Profile
Aurora Operations 12 Unlock Company Profile
Uatc 22 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Skydio is the leading patents filer within the self-calibrating scanners market, having submitted of 150 filings covering novel products and technologies with oinks to the unmanned systems and platform automation markets, including thermal-sensor data derived navigation, autonomous inspection routines, radio signal-based altitude adjustments, and telematics data integration solutions.

Some other leading filers in the self-calibrating scanner space include the Boeing, Airbus, and Thales.

In terms of application diversity, Israel Aerospace Industries leads the pack, while Boeing and Airbus stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Thales leads the pack, followed by Israel Aerospace Industries and Airbus.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Aerospace & 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.