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 swarm control. Buy the report here.
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 swarm control is a key innovation area in drones
Drone swarm control refers to the ability to manage and coordinate a group or fleet of drones to perform a specific task or function. It involves the use of a central control system that can communicate with and command multiple drones simultaneously, enabling them to work together in a coordinated manner. These swarms offer mission flexibility for applications such as surveillance, reconnaissance, and search and rescue. Equipped with obstacle avoidance systems and scalable capabilities, drone swarms adapt dynamically to diverse scenarios.
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 60+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of drone swarm control.
Key players in drone swarm control – 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 swarm control
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Boeing is one of the leading patent filers in the drone swarm control segment. In 2023, the company was granted a patent related to the use of lasers for signal transmission between drones in the swarm. The drones are designed to capture surplus power in the lasers, exceeding the amount needed for signal transmission, utilizing photovoltaics. This excess power is then employed to recharge the batteries of the drones.
In terms of application diversity, Israel Aerospace Industries, Robotic Research, and Raytheon Company are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, Robotic Research, Donecle, Northrop Grumman, and Thales are some of the leading patent filers.
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.