The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the uptake of advanced technology, and growing importance of technologies such as hypersonics and advanced materials. 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 Innovation in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Electric aircraft overcharge protection. Buy the report here.

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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, bonded fibre laminates, thermoplastic elastomer laminates, and vibration supression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Centrifugal fan impellers, ceramic composite laminates, and gas turbine engine testing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are protective blade coatings and blade alloy welding, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry

Electric aircraft overcharge protection is a key innovation area in aerospace and defence

An overcharge protection circuit protects a battery, and disconnects power as necessary.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of electric aircraft overcharge protection.

Key players in electric aircraft overcharge protection – 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 electric aircraft overcharge protection

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
SZ DJI Technology 46 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor Group 27 Unlock Company Profile
Wing Aviation 22 Unlock Company Profile
Walmart 14 Unlock Company Profile
Alarmcom Holdings 13 Unlock Company Profile
Nileworks 12 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 12 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 12 Unlock Company Profile
SoftBank Group 11 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 11 Unlock Company Profile
Deutsche Telekom 9 Unlock Company Profile
Loon 8 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 8 Unlock Company Profile
Nidec 7 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 7 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 6 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 6 Unlock Company Profile
Webasto Charging Systems 6 Unlock Company Profile
H55 5 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 5 Unlock Company Profile
Safran 5 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 5 Unlock Company Profile
AeroVironment 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

SZ DJI Technology is the largest company in this sector. The company is mainly known for manufacturing a variety of drones for industrial purposes and the patent filings are designed to protect the battery circuits of electric-powered drones. Whilst this technology is on a relatively small scale, it has the potential to be applied to the larger battery systems of electric aircraft. Hyundai Motor Group, the second largest patent filer in the sector, is developing an eVTOL, with the overcharge protection circuit being patented to directly develop this and other electric aircraft solutions.

In terms of application diversity, SoftBank Group is top, followed by Alarmcom and Loon. By geographic reach, Nileworks is top, followed by Safran and Wing Aviation.

This technology is critical to the development of electric aircraft, and patent activity will increase as more companies invest in the sector.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Defence.

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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.