The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the pressing need for modernization, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and unmanned systems. 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 Internet of Things in defense: adaptive sensor fusion. Buy the report here.

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 stabilizing 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.

110 innovations will shape the aerospace and defense industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry using innovation intensity models built on over 206,000 patents, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

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By GlobalData

Within the emerging innovation stage, satellite-based positioning, GPS augmentation, and LiDAR-sonar fusion are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. LiDAR weather forecasting, coherent LiDAR imaging, and LiDAR solid state photodetectors are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing.

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

Adaptive sensor fusion is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Adaptive sensor fusion refers to the process of combining data from multiple sensors, such as radar, light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and vision systems, using machine learning algorithms to gain a more comprehensive understanding of a given environment. By adapting to changing scenarios and learning from experience, the system can better identify and track objects in real-time.

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 80+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of adaptive sensor fusion.

Key players in adaptive sensor fusion – 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 adaptive sensor fusion

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Huawei Investment & Holding 15 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 11 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 5 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 4 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 7 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 7 Unlock Company Profile
Aptiv 30 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 8 Unlock Company Profile
NOV 5 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 9 Unlock Company Profile
Infineon Technologies 5 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 17 Unlock Company Profile
Amazon.com 17 Unlock Company Profile
NVIDIA 21 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 6 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 4 Unlock Company Profile
CR 10 Unlock Company Profile
SciVentures Investments 5 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 19 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 9 Unlock Company Profile
Metawave 8 Unlock Company Profile
Seoul Robotics 11 Unlock Company Profile
Stradvision 7 Unlock Company Profile
Chongqing Jinkang New Energy Vehicle 5 Unlock Company Profile
Tellus You Care 6 Unlock Company Profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 15 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 11 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 5 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 4 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 7 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 7 Unlock Company Profile
Aptiv 30 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 8 Unlock Company Profile
NOV 5 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 9 Unlock Company Profile
Infineon Technologies 5 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 17 Unlock Company Profile
Amazon.com 17 Unlock Company Profile
NVIDIA 21 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 6 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 4 Unlock Company Profile
CR 10 Unlock Company Profile
SciVentures Investments 5 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 19 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 9 Unlock Company Profile
Metawave 8 Unlock Company Profile
Seoul Robotics 11 Unlock Company Profile
Stradvision 7 Unlock Company Profile
Chongqing Jinkang New Energy Vehicle 5 Unlock Company Profile
Tellus You Care 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Mobility technology company Aptiv is one of the leading patent filers in adaptive sensor fusion. The company’s sensor fusion technology aims to bring together inputs from multiple cameras, LiDAR sensors, and radars to yield the most accurate and reliable representation of the vehicle environment by utilizing the best attributes of each sensor modality.

Aptiv was recently granted a patent for a method of imaging and radar fusion for multiple object tracking. The method involves detecting and tracking objects in multiple frames with the use of imaging sensors and radars and fusing the data gathered by each imaging sensor and radar to track multiple objects more accurately and reliably than using the sensor data separately to track objects.

Some other key patent filers in this space include NVDIA, Huawei, and Qualcomm.

In terms of application diversity, Seoul Robotics, Stradvision, and Airspace Systems are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, some of the leading patent filers include Qualcomm, Boeing, and Thales.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Aerospace & Defense.