The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by automation, environmental sustainability, and operational efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, autonomy, 3D printing/additive manufacturing, and battery technology. As modernization requirements continue to drive investment within both the civil and military aerospace sectors, widespread demand for vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drones has incentivized significant innovation within the field of drones. 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: VTOL 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.
VTOL drones is a key innovation area in drones
Drones that are capable of taking off and landing vertically having its flight directional axis horizontal when grounded the lift during taking-off being created by free or ducted propellers or by blowers the propellers being tiltable relative to the fuselage without the need of a runway are termed as VTOL drones. These drones are usually integrated with multiple rotors or propellers allowing them to hover and maneuver in a limited space. VTOL drones can be assigned in missions where a traditional aircraft or drone may not be suitable.
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 70+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of VTOL drones.
Key players in VTOL 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 VTOL drones
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Textron is one of the leading patent filers in VTOL drones. The company filed patent related to VTOL aircraft having fixed wing and rotorcraft configurations which is basically a configuration of an aircraft or rotorcraft to land or take off vertically. The company has also filed few more patents related to modular configurable drones, such as rocket-turbine-powered VTOL aircraft, submersible drone delivery and recovery system using waterproof aerial drone, separated lift-thrust VTOL aircraft with articulated rotors, coaxial rotor systems, adaptive transition systems and on the ground detection for VTOL aircraft, and VTOL aircraft having multifocal landing sensors.
In terms of application diversity, Quantum-Systems, SkyX, and Israel Aerospace Industries are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, some of the leading patent filers include Leonardo, Autonomous Devices, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
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.