The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the need for more efficient and cost-effective maintenance processes in industries such as manufacturing, energy, and transportation, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI)-powered diagnostics and predictive maintenance algorithms, which enable robots to autonomously identify and address issues. In the last three years alone, there have been over 4.1 million patents filed and granted in the technology industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Robotics in technology: robotic maintenance. 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 stabilizing 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.

190+ 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 1.5 million patents, there are 190+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, nanorobotics, autonomous harvesters, and line follower robots are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Surgical robots, SLAM path planning, and force feedback robots are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing.

Innovation S-curve for robotics in the technology industry

Robotic maintenance is a key innovation area in robotics

Robotic maintenance encompasses the utilization of robots or automated systems for executing maintenance operations across diverse industries. Equipped with specialized tools and sensors, these robots conduct tasks such as inspection, repair, and equipment replacement. They are engineered to function autonomously or under human supervision, reducing the need for extensive human involvement and enhancing the effectiveness of maintenance procedures.

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 210 companies, spanning technology vendors, established technology companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of robotic maintenance.

Key players in robotic maintenance – a disruptive innovation in the technology industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.  

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’. 

Patent volumes related to robotic maintenance

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Okuma 43 Unlock Company Profile
Yaskawa Electric 39 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 14 Unlock Company Profile
NIKE 22 Unlock Company Profile
Fanuc 345 Unlock Company Profile
ABB 66 Unlock Company Profile
Baker Hughes 13 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 23 Unlock Company Profile
Kobe Steel 65 Unlock Company Profile
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing 19 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 37 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 29 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 49 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 13 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 32 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 59 Unlock Company Profile
Intuitive Surgical 13 Unlock Company Profile
Omron 12 Unlock Company Profile
Oshkosh 19 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 401 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 52 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 13 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 34 Unlock Company Profile
Seiko Epson 25 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 71 Unlock Company Profile
NATIONAL MACHINERY 14 Unlock Company Profile
DMG Mori Seiki 21 Unlock Company Profile
Nihon Shoryoku Kikai 14 Unlock Company Profile
Gecko Robotics 61 Unlock Company Profile
Divergent Technologies 13 Unlock Company Profile
Loxin 2002 SL 24 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Jukogyo Kabushiki Kaisha 15 Unlock Company Profile
Kabushiki Kaisha Opton 14 Unlock Company Profile
Easee 12 Unlock Company Profile
RoboTire 22 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Among the companies innovating in robotic maintenance, Boeing is one of the leading patents filers. The company’s patent describes a method for placing a piece of composite material onto a substrate. The piece of the composite material is compacted against the substrate, while also holding the piece of composite material against the substrate using the end effector. Other prominent patent filers in the space include Fanuc and Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

In terms of application diversity, Easee held the top position, while National Machinery and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographical reach, Gecko Robotics leads the pack, followed by RoboTire and Oshkosh.

Robotic maintenance plays a pivotal role in revolutionizing industrial operations by introducing precision, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness in maintenance activities. These robots are equipped with advanced sensors and tools, allowing them to autonomously inspect, repair, and replace machinery, leading to reduced downtime, improved safety, and enhanced overall productivity.

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

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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.