The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the pressing need for modernisation and the growing importance of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and unmanned systems. 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 Internet of Things in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Lidar-Sonar fusion.

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, aircraft powertrain controls, remote controlled drones, and aircraft anti-collision systems are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. UAV swarm control, lidar for vehicle anti-collision, and satellite image smoothing techniques are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are sensor-guided aiming assists and aircraft flight control systems, which are now well established in the industry.  

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the aerospace and defence industry 

LiDAR-sonar fusion is a key innovation area in Internet of Things 

Both LiDAR and Sonar collect and analyse data about the surrounding environment. LiDAR does this by collecting information through lasers whereas Sonar does this through the emission of sound waves. LiDAR and Sonar data can be fused in order to provide a more detailed picture about the surrounding environment.  

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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of LiDAR-sonar fusion. 

Key players in LiDAR-sonar fusion – 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 LiDAR-Sonar fusion

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Robert Bosch Stiftung 52 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 48 Unlock company profile 33 Unlock company profile
SZ DJI Technology 33 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 27 Unlock company profile
Valeo 26 Unlock company profile
General Motors 21 Unlock company profile
3D at Depth 21 Unlock company profile
SoftBank Group 20 Unlock company profile
BAE Systems 18 Unlock company profile
Brain 17 Unlock company profile
LG 14 Unlock company profile
Siemens 14 Unlock company profile
Baidu 13 Unlock company profile
Alphabet 13 Unlock company profile
Here 13 Unlock company profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 12 Unlock company profile
Aptiv 11 Unlock company profile
Sharp 11 Unlock company profile
Denso 10 Unlock company profile
CEA 9 Unlock company profile
Hon Hai Precision Industry 9 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 8 Unlock company profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 8 Unlock company profile
Boeing 8 Unlock company profile
VRT Finland 8 Unlock company profile
YANMAR POWER TECHNOLOGY 7 Unlock company profile
Jenoptik 7 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Electric 7 Unlock company profile
Orica 7 Unlock company profile
Wartsila 7 Unlock company profile
Caterpillar 7 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 6 Unlock company profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 6 Unlock company profile
Seoul Robotics 6 Unlock company profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 6 Unlock company profile
iXCore 6 Unlock company profile
Intel 5 Unlock company profile
Micron Technology 5 Unlock company profile
Bozhon Precision Work Technology 5 Unlock company profile
Apple 5 Unlock company profile
Nileworks 5 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Robert Bosch Stiftung is one of the leading patent filers in LiDAR-Sonar fusion. Robert Bosch is a Germany-based non-profit organisation, which funds research programmes. It has been listed as an assignee on various patents related to LiDAR-Sonar Fusion, including those that relate to improved object identification. Some other key patent filers include Ford Motor, SZ DJJ Technology, and Porsche Automobil Holding.  

In terms of application diversity, Bozhon Precision Work Technology leads the pack. LG Corp and Samsung Group stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, SoftBank Group held the top position, followed by Seoul Robotics, VRT Finland, BAE Systems and Jenoptik.  

LiDAR-Sonar Fusion has a sizeable number of patents filed by companies with a primarily commercial market focus. The only defence companies to have filed patents in this field are Boeing and BAE Systems. Patents filed by defence companies include those that relate to threat identification and tracking systems. 

To further understand how Internet of Things is disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Thematic Research - Internet of Military Things


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.