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), unmanned systems 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 Drones in defense: drone cargo retrievalBuy the report here.

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Data Insights Drones in defence: Drone cargo retrieval

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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.

Drone cargo retrieval is a key innovation area in drones

Drone cargo retrieval refers to the process of using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to retrieve and transport cargo. These drones are equipped with specialized systems and mechanisms to securely hold and transport payloads. The use of drone cargo retrieval enhances the military’s operational agility, allowing for rapid deployment of resources in response to emergencies, conflicts, or disaster relief efforts. They are capable of both vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) as well as fixed-wing flight operations, allowing them to efficiently navigate different environments and deliver cargo to various locations.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of drone cargo retrieval.

Key players in drone cargo retrieval – 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 drone cargo retrieval

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Qualcomm 14 Unlock Company Profile
Lockheed Martin 20 Unlock Company Profile
United Parcel Service 1 Unlock Company Profile
Pasha 1 Unlock Company Profile
Inbody 1 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 2 Unlock Company Profile
Acuity Brands 1 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 6 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 8 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 1 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 3 Unlock Company Profile 5 Unlock Company Profile
Kerry Properties 1 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 1 Unlock Company Profile
SZ DJI Technology 6 Unlock Company Profile
Sunlight Photonics 1 Unlock Company Profile
ETAK Systems 5 Unlock Company Profile
OPTiM 5 Unlock Company Profile
Wuhu Qianchuang Intelligent Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Lockheed Martin is one of the leading patent filers in drone cargo retrieval. It filed patents related to all-purpose foreign object debris detection and retrieval devices, outdoor entity and weapon tracking and orientation, and automatic emergency landing gear extension system. Some other key patent filers in this space include BAE Systems, RTX (formerly Raytheon Technologies) and, Boeing .

In terms of application diversity, BAE Systems leads the pack, while RTX  and Lockheed Martin stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach of different patent assignees, BAE Systems held the top position, followed by Lockheed Martin and RTX

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.