The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity 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 174,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defence industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environment Sustainability in Aerospace, Defence & Security: EV charging smart grids.

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, hydrogen fuel cells, aircraft powertrain control, and fuel cells for aircraft are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. EV charging stations, battery management systems, and electric aircraft charging interfaces are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are fuselage frame modelling and powered wheels for aircraft landing, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the aerospace and defence industry 

EV charging smart grids is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability 

The smart grid, a power grid that uses digital communication technology to detect and respond to changes in local usage, is the foundation that enables the introduction of electric vehicles into the market. EV charging stations consist only of power converter topologies. They are connected to the existing power grid using a rectifier and a DC converter to transfer energy between the electric vehicle and the existing power grid and vice versa. 

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 70+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of EV charging smart grids. 

Key players in EV charging smart grids – 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 EV charging smart grids

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
SZ DJI Technology 125 Unlock company profile
LG 87 Unlock company profile
Boeing 65 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 63 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 56 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 53 Unlock company profile
Wing Aviation 51 Unlock company profile
Nio 50 Unlock company profile
Walmart 47 Unlock company profile
CEA 44 Unlock company profile
Wenzhou Ruichu Technology 38 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 35 Unlock company profile
General Motors 34 Unlock company profile
Kia 33 Unlock company profile
IHI 27 Unlock company profile 24 Unlock company profile
Deutsche Post 24 Unlock company profile
Semiconductor Energy Laboratory 24 Unlock company profile
Workhorse Group 19 Unlock company profile
Locus Robotics 18 Unlock company profile
Nissan Motor 18 Unlock company profile
Airbus 18 Unlock company profile
General Electric 16 Unlock company profile
Lockheed Martin 16 Unlock company profile
Alarmcom Holdings 15 Unlock company profile
Siemens 15 Unlock company profile
Gatekeeper Systems 15 Unlock company profile
Percepto 14 Unlock company profile
Kibbutz Yizreel Holdings 2004 ACS 13 Unlock company profile
BYD 12 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 12 Unlock company profile
NEC 12 Unlock company profile
Xiaomi 12 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 12 Unlock company profile
Husqvarna 12 Unlock company profile
Meta Platforms 12 Unlock company profile
Deutsche Telekom 11 Unlock company profile
Intel 11 Unlock company profile
Stryker 10 Unlock company profile
Midea Holding 10 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 9 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 9 Unlock company profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 9 Unlock company profile
Qualcomm 9 Unlock company profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 9 Unlock company profile
Safran 8 Unlock company profile
WiBotic 8 Unlock company profile
Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson 8 Unlock company profile
Kiekert 8 Unlock company profile
Icon Polymer Group 8 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

SZ DJI Technology is one of the leading patent filers in EV charging smart grids. The company, which manufactures COTS drones for personal, civil, and industrial use, is investing in EV charging smart grids to enhance the usability of its products for a greater range of uses in everyday life. Other key patent filers include Boeing, Wing Aviation, and IHI.  

In terms of application diversity, Nio leads the pack. Kibbutz Yizreel Holdings and Deutsche Poststood are in the second and third positions respectively. Regarding geographic reach, Semiconductor Energy Laboratory holds the most widely relevant patents, followed by Deutsche Post and Kawasaki Heavy Industries

Mass use of small, unmanned platforms for roles such as delivery and logistics requires underlying supporting infrastructure including efficient recharging grids. 

To further understand how electric vehicles are disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Thematic Research - Electric Vehicles in Defense. 


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.