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: lighter-than-air drones. 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.
Lighter-than-air drones is a key innovation area in drones
Lighter-than-air drones are gaining prominence in aerospace and defense due to their distinctive attributes and multifaceted applications. Employing buoyancy from helium or other gases, these drones offer extended flight durations, making them ideal for persistent surveillance over vast areas. Their role extends to serving as communication relays, establishing temporary networks in areas with disrupted connectivity. In defense applications, they prove valuable for strategic reconnaissance, anti-submarine warfare, and maintaining a low radar cross-section for enhanced stealth. The loitering capability of these drones enables effective monitoring of specific areas, responding to emerging threats.
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 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of lighter-than-air drones.
Key players in lighter-than-air drones – 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 lighter-than-air drones
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
The leading company in terms of total patent filings within the lighter-than-air drones segment is AeroVironment. The patents filed by the company include drone that uses a balloon structure to stay aloft, methods of safely terminating the flight of a lighter-than-air drone and recovering it, detecting when the drone is in danger and methods of safe termination and recovery.
In terms of application diversity, Solar Ship, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, some of the leading patent filers include TCOM , H2 Clipper, and Solar Ship.
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.