Drone technology patenting growing fast

Apr 16, 2018


Drones is one of the technologies we keep an eye on. While drones have become popular gadgets in consumer markets, their uses are diverse, including for example payload delivery, security and defense. An interesting fact: this space has had a 75% growth in patenting activity in the U.S. in the past 12 months compared to prior period.

An overall look at this space shows 622 patent applications and 246 grants in the U.S. since 2012. Patenting in this space is unsurprisingly dominated by companies - 151 companies to be precise. The 6 remaining organizations are universities and government agencies. The significant year-over-year growth is one of the most interesting facts: 75% growth in patenting activity in the U.S. in the past 12 months compared to prior period. When looking at the past 6 months only, we see this activity slowing down a bit but the number of companies still grows almost 40%. In other words, there is a good number of new entrants (we'll introduce new metrics for this soon).

Parrot SA, a Paris, France-based company, is the leading patentee in our analysis, with 4.6% share of the activity in this space. This company commercializes drones and related accessories, among other electronics. IBM is the next on this list. It deals with a whole range of drone-related technology, such as systems for multiple drone delivery, truck-drone delivery coordination systems, traffic control software, and flight planning technology.

The rest of the companies involved in this space include several large technology players such as Thales and The Boeing Company, or even fintech companies such as Mastercard (with technology to process payments based on a vehicle - drone - registration plate; yes, drones with registration plates!). There are also smaller companies such as Ubiqomm LLC, which develops wireless technology (for example, broadband network solutions for commercial drones). The non-profits we see: organizations such as The Institut Superieur de l'Aeronautique et de l'Espace and the U.S. Navy.

There are some military technologies within the set of drone-related activity of the past few years (we are testing a filter for "military domain" activity only). The presence of companies such as Boeing and Airbus Defence and Space SAS is not surprising here. It's more interesting to see smaller companies that make their way into this market with dual-use, potentially military-related applications. That's the case of Drone Go Home LLC, for example, from New Jersey, USA, which develops drone detection technology. Its recent patent application for drone defense beacon technology could have defense and security applications (specifically, it relates to creating and monitoring "no-fly zones" for drones).

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InnovationPulse (Apr 16, 2018). Drone technology patenting growing fast. Retrieved from https://www.innovationpulse.com/blog/3/drone_technology_patenting_growing_fast/

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