The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the increasing capability and applicability of drones, coupled with falling costs, and the growing importance of technologies such as multi-sensor data fusion, drone modularization, and high-altitude platform stations (HAPS). 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 Drones in defense: aerial cargo delivery. Buy the report here.

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Data Insights Drones in defence: Aerial cargo delivery

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 206,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the aerospace and defense industry, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Aerial cargo delivery is a key innovation area in drones

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 unmanned aerial cargo delivery. It successfully completed the first flight demonstration of its Skyways parcel delivery drone in Singapore in February 2018. The drone achieved its maiden shore-to-ship delivery flight in March 2019. 

In November 2023, Airbus DS Airborne Solutions (ADAS) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Yates Electrospace to support the adaptation of Silent Arrow GD-2000 heavy-payload autonomous cargo delivery aircraft by the European institutional and military customers including the European Defence Agency. 

The Silent Arrow GD-2000 cargo delivery drone, which is designed and developed by Yates Electrospace, will be manufactured by MEL Aviation for the UK and EU markets. Airbus will deploy and certify the heavy cargo delivery unmanned aerial system (UAS) for airdrop operations from the A400M military transport aircraft for tactical resupply, electronic warfare, or humanitarian and disaster relief missions.

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 Drones in Aerospace and 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.