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: geospatial image analytics. 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

Geospatial image analytics is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Geospatial image analytics refers to the use of advanced technologies, such as AI and machine learning, to analyze and interpret images captured from geospatial sources. It involves processing and extracting valuable information from aerial imagery, satellite images, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data, and other geospatial datasets to gain insights and make informed decisions about various spatial phenomena.

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 160+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of geospatial image analytics.

Key players in geospatial image analytics – 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 geospatial image analytics

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Huawei Investment & Holding 24 Unlock Company Profile
Cognitive Systems 8 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 9 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 8 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 70 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 95 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 33 Unlock Company Profile
Apple 9 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Geely 14 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 7 Unlock Company Profile
Aptiv 35 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 11 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 22 Unlock Company Profile
ResMed 23 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 24 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 57 Unlock Company Profile
Infineon Technologies 41 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 23 Unlock Company Profile 44 Unlock Company Profile
NVIDIA 24 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 12 Unlock Company Profile
LG 10 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 9 Unlock Company Profile
M.S. Technologies 7 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 17 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 9 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 39 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 7 Unlock Company Profile
Didi Global 16 Unlock Company Profile
Innoviz Technologies 12 Unlock Company Profile
Guangdong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications 7 Unlock Company Profile
Radio Physics Solutions 10 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 33 Unlock Company Profile
Aurora Innovation 9 Unlock Company Profile
AEye 9 Unlock Company Profile
Metawave 15 Unlock Company Profile
Veo Robotics 13 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing TuSimple Future Technology 9 Unlock Company Profile 8 Unlock Company Profile
Seoul Robotics 13 Unlock Company Profile
SOS Lab 11 Unlock Company Profile
Luminar Technologies 27 Unlock Company Profile
Intelligent Technologies International 9 Unlock Company Profile
Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus VTT 11 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 8 Unlock Company Profile
Here 12 Unlock Company Profile
Aurora Operations 12 Unlock Company Profile
Uatc 27 Unlock Company Profile
KaiKuTeK 11 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 17 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

International Business Machines (IBM) is one of the leading patent filers in geospatial image analytics. The company has filed patents related to parallel querying of adjustable resolution geospatial database by splitting a map into two grids with different levels of detail. The system then identifies when a cell in one grid is related to a cell in the other grid based on a shared key. These grids are stored in multiple servers, and cells with the same key are stored in the same server or nearby servers. Finally, processors in these servers work together to simultaneously search both grids using their keys.

IBM’s Geospatial Analytics, previously recognized as IBM PAIRS Geoscope, offers a repository of geospatial-temporal data along with an analytical engine. This enables the efficient execution of intricate queries, swiftly uncovering significant relationships among different layers of data. Enhancing the level of geospatial-enabled analytical sophistication can improve the operational effectiveness of defense and security forces.

Other significant patent filers in this space include Thales, Boeing, and Skydio. 

In terms of application diversity, Skydio, Northrop Grumman, and Cubic are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, some of the leading patent filers include Cubic, Turkish Armed Forces Foundation, and Raytheon Technologies. 

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.