The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the increasing demand for efficient and sustainable energy solutions, advancements in solar energy technology, expanding applications of drones across various industries, and growing importance of technologies such as IoT sensors, wireless communication, advanced flight control systems, and efficient photovoltaic drones for aerial surveillance, environmental monitoring, and infrastructure inspection applications. In the last three years alone, there have been over 3.6 million patents filed and granted in the technology industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Internet of Things: Photovoltaic drones. Buy the report here.

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.

300+ innovations will shape the technology industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the technology industry using innovation intensity models built on over 2.5 million patents, there are 300+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, environmental sensors, digital twins, and network-on-a-chip are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Intelligent embedded systems, smart factory systems and smart grids are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are, contactless verification, wearable physiological monitors, and software-defined wide area network, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for IoT in the technology industry

Photovoltaic drones is a key innovation area in IoT

Photovoltaic drones are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that utilise solar energy as their primary power source. These drones incorporate photovoltaic panels to convert sunlight into electrical energy, enabling extended flight durations and diverse operational capabilities. Tasks performed by photovoltaic drones encompass aerial surveillance, mapping, communication relays, and even package delivery.

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 290+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established technology companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of photovoltaic drones.

Key players in photovoltaic drones – a disruptive innovation in the technology 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 photovoltaic drones

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Safran 9503 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 6844 Unlock Company Profile
Rolls-Royce 4138 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 3697 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 2200 Unlock Company Profile
UpStack 1421 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 1236 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 938 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 810 Unlock Company Profile
MTU Aero Engines 737 Unlock Company Profile
IHI 600 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 407 Unlock Company Profile
Safran Aircraft Engine 260 Unlock Company Profile
Aviva 154 Unlock Company Profile
Exxon Mobil 150 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi 141 Unlock Company Profile
Alstom 140 Unlock Company Profile
Lockheed Martin 136 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens Energy 136 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 132 Unlock Company Profile
Melrose Industries 115 Unlock Company Profile
SZ DJI Technology 104 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 98 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 98 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 94 Unlock Company Profile
Doosan 86 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 83 Unlock Company Profile
Textron 82 Unlock Company Profile
Woodward 79 Unlock Company Profile
Liebherr-International 75 Unlock Company Profile
Deutsche Lufthansa 70 Unlock Company Profile
Aeronext 67 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 65 Unlock Company Profile
China National Aviation Holding 62 Unlock Company Profile
Leonardo 56 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain 56 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Electric Industries 54 Unlock Company Profile
CDP Equity 51 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 50 Unlock Company Profile
Albany International 50 Unlock Company Profile
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 48 Unlock Company Profile
AeroVironment 48 Unlock Company Profile
EADS Deutschland 48 Unlock Company Profile
European Aeronautic Defence and Space 46 Unlock Company Profile 45 Unlock Company Profile
Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt eV 45 Unlock Company Profile
SoftBank Group 42 Unlock Company Profile
Vestas Wind Systems 42 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 39 Unlock Company Profile
Sulzer Metco 39 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Safran is one of the leading patent filers in photovoltaic drones. The company’s patents are aimed at a method for modelling an offset portion of a blade of a non-ducted propeller.

The method includes parametrising a C1-class curve representing a deformation of the blade characterising the offset, according to a position along a section at a given height in the blade, the curve intersecting consecutively through a first bend control point, a central control point, and a second bend control point, with the first and second bend control points defining the extent of the blade section.

The parametrisation is implemented according to a first deformation parameter defining the abscissa of the central control point, with a second parameter of deformation defining the ordinate of the second bend point and a third deformation parameter defining the angle of the tangent to the curve at the second bend control point.

The method also includes optimising one of the deformation parameters and plotting the values of the optimised parameters on an interface.

Other prominent patent filers in the space include General Electric (GE) and Rolls-Royce.   

By geographic reach, Albany International leads the pack, followed by ArcelorMittal and Wobben Properties. In terms of application diversity, Novartis holds the top position, followed by XOMA and Hutchinson.        

IoT innovation in photovoltaic drones can revolutionise the field of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by integrating IoT capabilities and solar power generation. Photovoltaic drones, equipped with solar panels, harness solar energy to power their operations and extend their flight duration. 

To further understand how IoT is disrupting the technology industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things – Thematic Research.

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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.