The aerospace and defense industry The industry remains a hotbed of innovation, with the conflict in Ukraine driving defense spending and investment, the need to combat emerging technologies such as hypersonics, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine vision. In the last three years alone, more than 174,000 patents have been filed and granted in the aerospace and defense industry. , according to the GlobalData report on Robotics in Aerospace, Defense and Security: Autonomous Control Systems.
However, not all innovations are the same or follow a constant upward trend. Instead, its evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects its typical life cycle from early onset to accelerated adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.
Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerated stages, is essential to understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.
180+ 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 based on more than 262,000 patents, there are more than 180 areas of innovation that will shape the future of the industry.
Within emergent The innovation stage, collision avoidance for robots, computer vision for autonomous navigation, and autonomous control systems are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be closely watched. UAV swarm control and drone flight control system are some of the throttle areas of innovation, where adoption has been steadily increasing. A maturing The innovation area is sensor-guided aim assists which are now well established in the industry.
S-curve of innovation for robotics in the aerospace and defense industry
Autonomous control systems is a key area of innovation in robotics
Autonomous Control Systems (ACS) are tools that use AI, machine learning (ML), and data acquisition to provide robots with the ability to operate with little to no human control, even when operating in an uncertain or contested environment.
GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each area of innovation and assesses the potential scope and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are more than 10 companies, spanning technology providers, established aerospace and defense companies, and new start-ups that are engaged in the development and application of autonomous control systems.
Key players in autonomous control systems: a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defense industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly divides companies into ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographical scope’ refers to the number of different countries in which each relevant patent is registered and reflects the breadth of intended geographical application, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Baidu is one of the leading patent applicants for autonomous control systems. The company has invested heavily in autonomous driving technology and is looking to increasingly commercialize the technology and achieve mass production in the coming years. Baidu is deploying its technology in China and has developed a series of autonomous taxi systems, which have embedded machine learning and can predict how other road users are likely to act. Another important company in the sector is Mitsubishi Electric, which is developing autonomous driving technologies, using radars and cameras to enable autonomous navigation. Some other key patent applicants in this industry include the Robert Bosch Stiftung, General Motors, Ford, and Huawei.
In terms of application diversity, Ford Motor is the leader, with Huawei and Baidu coming in second and third. By geographic scope, Boeing is first, followed by Hitachi and Ford Motor.
Existing autonomous systems are dependent on human attention at all times; theoretically at least, however, patent applications suggest that technology that will enable full autonomy is coming, and this is the direction investment is taking.
To better understand the key issues and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Defending.