The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the uptake of advanced technology, and growing importance of technologies such as hypersonics and advanced materials. In the last three years alone, there have been over 174,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defence industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Aerospace, Defence & Security: GPS augmentation. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

180+ innovations will shape the aerospace and defence industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry using innovation intensity models built on over 262,000 patents, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, bonded fibre laminates, thermoplastic elastomer laminates, and vibration supression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Centrifugal fan impellers, ceramic composite laminates, and gas turbine engine testing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are protective blade coatings and blade alloy welding, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry

GPS augmentation is a key innovation area in aerospace and defence

GPS augmentation is a system that helps by providing accuracy, integrity or any improvement to positioning or navigation which is external to the GPS itself.

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 110+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of GPS augmentation.

Key players in GPS augmentation – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to GPS augmentation

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Qualcomm 137 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 114 Unlock Company Profile
Hexagon 94 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 83 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 73 Unlock Company Profile
Casiomputer 64 Unlock Company Profile
Seiko Epson 60 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 58 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 56 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 45 Unlock Company Profile
Safran 44 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 41 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 41 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 41 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 40 Unlock Company Profile
SZ DJI Technology 36 Unlock Company Profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 35 Unlock Company Profile
Kubota 35 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 34 Unlock Company Profile
Rivada Research 33 Unlock Company Profile
TDK 30 Unlock Company Profile
SSW Partners 29 Unlock Company Profile
STMicroelectronics 28 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 28 Unlock Company Profile
adidas 27 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 27 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 27 Unlock Company Profile
Trimble 26 Unlock Company Profile
Komatsu 26 Unlock Company Profile
Focal Point Positioning 25 Unlock Company Profile
Apple 25 Unlock Company Profile
Northrop Grumman 25 Unlock Company Profile
Elbit Systems 24 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 24 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 23 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 22 Unlock Company Profile
Faurecia 22 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 22 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Huace Navigation Technology 21 Unlock Company Profile
Amer Sports 21 Unlock Company Profile
Atlantic Inertial Systems 20 Unlock Company Profile
Tencent Holdings 19 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 16 Unlock Company Profile
Didi Global 15 Unlock Company Profile
Furuno Electric 15 Unlock Company Profile
NVIDIA 14 Unlock Company Profile
3AM Innovations 14 Unlock Company Profile
Furukawa 14 Unlock Company Profile
Textron 13 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor Group 12 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Qualcomm provides a number of GPS solutions including via satellites. These systems provide GPS corrections and integrity monitoring. The company has a number of satellite systems based globally in order to provide these capabilities, with a Chinese system currently in development. It has partnered with Huawei to provide this capability with 5G enhancements. Honeywell is the second leading patent filer and provides a ground-based augmentation system, which provides precision navigation for air traffic. Other key companies in the sector include Hexagon, Thales and Casio Computer.

By application diversity, Vision Works IP is top, followed by 3AM Innovations and Wing. In terms of geographic reach, Ricoh is top, followed by Hemisphere GPS and Thales.

GPS in coming years will likely continue to be supported by satellite systems, which will augment existing capabilities providing increased precision amongst other features.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Defence.

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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.