The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by automation, environmental sustainability, and operational efficiency, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), drones, and satellites. 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: aerial cargo delivery. Buy the report here.

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Data Insights Innovation in defence: Aerial cargo delivery

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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

Aerial cargo delivery is a key innovation area in aerospace and defense

Aerial cargo delivery refers to the transportation of goods through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. This concept involves the use of specialized systems and technologies to ensure safe and efficient delivery of cargo by air.

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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of aerial cargo delivery.

Key players in aerial cargo delivery – 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 aerial cargo delivery

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
COSCO Shipping 5 Unlock Company Profile
Embraer 9 Unlock Company Profile
Israel Aerospace Industries 10 Unlock Company Profile
MBDA France 15 Unlock Company Profile
Rakuten Group 10 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 8 Unlock Company Profile
Warburg Pincus 8 Unlock Company Profile
Textron 4 Unlock Company Profile 6 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 7 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 8 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon 4 Unlock Company Profile
DGP Intelsius (formerly DGP Group) 4 Unlock Company Profile
PABLO AIR 17 Unlock Company Profile
SOOMVI 9 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Airbus is one of the leading patent filers in aerial cargo delivery. It filed patents related to a system and method of safely loading and dropping cargo from an aircraft, using an aerial delivery parachute.

Airbus DS Airborne Solutions (ADAS) developed cargo loading systems for deployment on numerous Airbus military and passenger aircraft, such as A380 airliner and A400M military transport aircraft. The systems work both electrically and electronically for easy operation and reliability and help modern military transport aircraft in aerial cargo delivery.

Some other key patent filers in this space include MBDA France, Israel Aerospace Industries, and Embraer

In terms of application diversity, Textron, Capewell Aerial Systems, and Xian Aisheng Technology Group are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, some of the leading patent filers include Boeing, BAE Systems, and Saab.

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.