The travel & tourism industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by a greater desire from consumers for personalized offerings that heighten the traveler experience, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, Internet of Things, and cloud. In the last three years alone, there have been over 14,000 patents filed and granted in the travel & tourism industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial intelligence in travel & tourism: autonomous carts. Buy the report here

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 11,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the travel & tourism industry, there are 10+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Autonomous carts is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Autonomous carts are self-driving vehicles that can operate without human intervention. They can be used for various purposes, such as moving people or luggage at airports.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established travel & tourism companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of autonomous carts.

Key players in autonomous carts – a disruptive innovation in the travel & tourism 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 autonomous carts

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Miso Robotics 5 Unlock Company Profile
Nuro 131 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 7 Unlock Company Profile
Hua-Chuang Automobile Information Technical Center 1 Unlock Company Profile
Emerging Automotive 13 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 8 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 30 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 5 Unlock Company Profile
IBM 8 Unlock Company Profile
Aptiv 1 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The specialist nature of this technology is reflected by the leading players. Rather than travel companies, it is automotive companies such as Toyota Motor (21 patents in the last five years) and Honda Motor (five patents in the last five years) that are notable by their presence. However, by far and away the leading patent filer in this technology is robotics specialist Nuro, which has lodged 131 applications since the start of 2019.

The lack of involvement from travel companies, such as hotel chains and airports, does not mean that autonomous carts are not a disruptive technology in the travel space. It is instead a sign that adopters of this technology, such as Incheon and Heathrow Airports, would prefer to focus on core operations and use the technology developed by specialists in the field of autonomous transportation.

In terms of application diversity, Miso Robotics leads the pack, while Nuro and Hitachi are in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Nuro held the top position, followed by Hitachi and IBM.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the travel & tourism industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Travel and Tourism.

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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.