The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the progress in robotics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and sensor technologies, and growing importance of technologies such as flight control systems, radio control systems, global navigation satellite systems, and cameras and imaging systems. These are some of the key technologies used in remote-controlled drones. 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 Robotics: Remote-controlled 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, AI-assisted inspection, anti-collision LiDAR, and 3d object sensing are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Autonomous harvesters, cleaning robots, and line follower robots are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are, welding robot and robotic vision, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for robotics in the technology industry

Remote-controlled drones is a key innovation area in robotics

Remote-controlled drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are aircraft that are flown and controlled by a human operator from a distance. These drones incorporate a range of sensors, cameras, and advanced technology to facilitate their utilisation in diverse applications such as surveillance, reconnaissance, and other relevant tasks.

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

Key players in remote-controlled 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 remote-controlled drones

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
INRIX 76 Unlock Company Profile
SZ DJI Technology 67 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 52 Unlock Company Profile
Walmart 44 Unlock Company Profile 43 Unlock Company Profile
International Business Machines (IBM) 41 Unlock Company Profile
LG 31 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 27 Unlock Company Profile
GoPro 26 Unlock Company Profile
Proxy Technologies 26 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 22 Unlock Company Profile
Wing Aviation 21 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 21 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 20 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 19 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 18 Unlock Company Profile
Israel Aerospace Industries 17 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 15 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 14 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 13 Unlock Company Profile
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance 12 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 12 Unlock Company Profile
Genghiscomm 12 Unlock Company Profile
AT&T 11 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm 11 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 11 Unlock Company Profile
X Development 11 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 11 Unlock Company Profile
Skyryse 11 Unlock Company Profile
Halliburton 10 Unlock Company Profile
Autel Robotics USA 10 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 10 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 10 Unlock Company Profile
Kespry 10 Unlock Company Profile
Airphrame 10 Unlock Company Profile
Zume 9 Unlock Company Profile
Omron Tateisi Electronics 8 Unlock Company Profile
Seiko Epson 8 Unlock Company Profile
Loveland Innovations 8 Unlock Company Profile
Robotic Research 7 Unlock Company Profile
Accenture 7 Unlock Company Profile
Everseen 6 Unlock Company Profile
Alarmcom 6 Unlock Company Profile
Skydio 6 Unlock Company Profile
Rakuten Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
DXC Technology 6 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 6 Unlock Company Profile
AeroVironment 6 Unlock Company Profile
BCB International 6 Unlock Company Profile
Torquing Group 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

INRIX is one of the leading patent filers in remote-controlled drones. The company’s patents are aimed at one or more techniques and/or systems provided for selectively collecting vehicle telemetry data from one or more vehicles.

For example, a communication data budget for a vehicle may be identified and a determination may be made as to whether the vehicle can provide vehicle telemetry data used to model a travel condition such as road imagery, temperature, windshield wiper state, and/or road safety condition.

If the vehicle has remaining communication data budget available for transmission of the vehicle telemetry data without the vehicle exceeding the communication data budget for a billing cycle, then a data request for the vehicle telemetry data may be sent to the vehicle. Responsive to receiving the vehicle telemetry data from the vehicle, the travel condition may be modelled.

Other prominent patent filers in the space include SZ DJI Technology and Boeing.

By geographic reach, Halliburton leads the pack, followed by Omron Tateisi Electronics and Torquing Group. In terms of application diversity, INRIX holds the top position, followed by Zume and Loveland Innovation.

The remote-controlled drones provide aerial capabilities, gather data, and perform tasks in a cost-effective, efficient, and safe manner. They have the potential to revolutionise industries by improving productivity and enabling new opportunities for innovation and exploration.

To further understand how robotics is disrupting the technology industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Robotics – Thematic Research Report.

Premium Insights


The gold standard of business intelligence.

Blending expert knowledge with cutting-edge technology, GlobalData’s unrivalled proprietary data will enable you to decode what’s happening in your market. You can make better informed decisions and gain a future-proof advantage over your competitors.


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.