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: satellite image smoothing. 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

Satellite image smoothing is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Satellite image smoothing refers to the process of reducing the noise and enhancing the visual quality of satellite images. It involves various techniques and algorithms aimed at removing unwanted artifacts and imperfections from the images, resulting in a smoother and more visually appealing appearance.

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 200+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of satellite image smoothing.

Key players in satellite image smoothing – 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 satellite image smoothing

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Orica 10 Unlock Company Profile
AeroVironment 11 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 26 Unlock Company Profile
Lockheed Martin 15 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 26 Unlock Company Profile
Cognex 20 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson & Johnson 12 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 44 Unlock Company Profile
Repsol 13 Unlock Company Profile
Reliance Industries 10 Unlock Company Profile
Pictometry International 21 Unlock Company Profile
Hexagon 22 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Corporation of China 20 Unlock Company Profile
Schlumberger 10 Unlock Company Profile
CEA 13 Unlock Company Profile
Northrop Grumman 10 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Department of Defence 23 Unlock Company Profile
M&T Bank 11 Unlock Company Profile
ADOBE 11 Unlock Company Profile
China Southern Power Grid 12 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 15 Unlock Company Profile
Leonardo 11 Unlock Company Profile
Bayer 27 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 53 Unlock Company Profile
Teledyne Technologies 11 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 42 Unlock Company Profile
Ministry of Defence (UK) 18 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone 10 Unlock Company Profile
General Dynamics 12 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 40 Unlock Company Profile
Maxar Technologies 14 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 10 Unlock Company Profile
IBM 13 Unlock Company Profile
SoftBank Group 14 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 37 Unlock Company Profile
Great Circle Technologies 11 Unlock Company Profile
Matterport 12 Unlock Company Profile
Skydio 10 Unlock Company Profile
SZ DJI Technology 67 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon 23 Unlock Company Profile
Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) 18 Unlock Company Profile
Antarctica Capital 14 Unlock Company Profile
EagleView Technologies 14 Unlock Company Profile
Autel Robotics USA 17 Unlock Company Profile
X Development 22 Unlock Company Profile
Chang Guang Satellite Technology 11 Unlock Company Profile
Geomni 10 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen Autel Intelligent Aviation Technology 11 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie Merieux Alliance 10 Unlock Company Profile
Uni-President China 17 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Raytheon Technologies is one of the leading patent filers in satellite image smoothing. The company, through its subsidiary Rosemount Aerospace, has filed patents related to cloud detection in aerial imagery.

The method helps find clouds in pictures taken from above, comparing a specific area in the picture to a similar area in another picture. It calculates the amount of shared information between these areas. If there is a lot of shared information, it means there might be a cloud in that area of the picture.

Some other significant patent filers in the satellite image smoothing space include Boeing, Thales, and Lockheed Martin.    

In terms of application diversity, Skydio, Lockheed Martin, and Airbus are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, some of the leading patent filers include General Dynamics, Leonardo, and Airbus.  

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.