The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the need to lower operational costs, larger consumer trends, and electrification, and growing importance of technologies such as hydrogen and electric aircraft and advanced materials. 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 Drones in defense: drone battery swappingBuy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 206,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the aerospace and defense industry, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Drone battery swapping is a key innovation area in drones

Drone battery swapping refers to systems enabling modular batteries to be removed and installed on drone platforms, allowing for rapid recharging turnaround.

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 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of drone battery swapping.

Key players in drone battery swapping – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence 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 drone battery swapping

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Localiza Rent A Car 2 Unlock Company Profile
United Parcel Service 8 Unlock Company Profile
USAA 2 Unlock Company Profile
MinebeaMitsumi 13 Unlock Company Profile
AmTRAN Technology 4 Unlock Company Profile
Intertrade 1 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 8 Unlock Company Profile
Wistron 6 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Corporation of China 1 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Electric Power 3 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 5 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 12 Unlock Company Profile 7 Unlock Company Profile
MiaSole Hi-Tech 2 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 22 Unlock Company Profile
IBM 9 Unlock Company Profile
Walmart 13 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 7 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 6 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 8 Unlock Company Profile
SZ DJI Technology 106 Unlock Company Profile
Skycatch 2 Unlock Company Profile
Sharper Shape 2 Unlock Company Profile
Identified Technologies 5 Unlock Company Profile
LIG Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
Workhorse Group 36 Unlock Company Profile
ETAK Systems 2 Unlock Company Profile
Nileworks 18 Unlock Company Profile
Vtrus 3 Unlock Company Profile
Asylon 11 Unlock Company Profile
SpearUAV 6 Unlock Company Profile
Wenzhou Ruichu Technology 2 Unlock Company Profile
Ai Robotics 7 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

SZ DJI Technology is the leading patent filer in drone battery swapping. It is a leading producer of commercial and civil drones, and is offering products for use in the agriculture, industrial, mining, oil and gas, and logistics sectors. The company’s commercial products include the DJI AGRAS T40 and MATRICE 300 RTK. To increase the economic viability of drones in these sectors, it is essential for associated infrastructure such as recharging solutions to be developed in tandem.

Some other key patent filers include Workhorse, Boeing and Nileworks. Boeing is developing an electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) aircraft for urban air mobility (UAM) through its Wisk Aero subsidiary, and Workhorse Group, an OEM developing electric logistics solutions.

In terms of application diversity, Localiza Rent A Car leads the pack. United Parcel Service and MinebeaMitsumi stand in the second and third positions, respectively. In terms of geographic reach, MinebeaMitsumi holds the top position, followed by Sony and Workhorse.

Drone battery swapping is a technological development that has the potential to greatly enhance the viability of emerging drone sectors which rely upon intense use of small, unmanned platforms, for example in logistics. The quick replacement of modular batteries would allow for rapid turnaround of drones with depleted batteries, maximizing the drone’s working time. This would have the knock-on effect of reducing the size of the fleet required to perform a given task (for example, medical deliveries in a small town), decreasing the cost of the overall operation.

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

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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.