The construction industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by an increased focus on environmental sustainability and workplace safety, and the growing importance of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics. In the last three years alone, there have been over 425,000 patents filed and granted in the construction industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial intelligence in construction: autonomous excavatorBuy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 232,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the construction industry, there are 80+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Autonomous excavators is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Autonomous excavators use advanced robotic technology to automate the excavation process on construction sites. Using sensors to collect information on the surrounding area, autonomous excavators can track how much soil they are moving in real time. This helps to reduce the movement of excess soil, which can significantly improve the efficiency and environmental sustainability of construction sites.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of autonomous excavators.

Key players in autonomous excavators – a disruptive innovation in the construction 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 autonomous excavators

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Kobe Steel 136 Unlock Company Profile
Komatsu 103 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 72 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 43 Unlock Company Profile
Built Robotics 38 Unlock Company Profile
Husqvarna 28 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 21 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Heavy Industries 18 Unlock Company Profile 17 Unlock Company Profile
Iseki & 17 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 12 Unlock Company Profile
Newmont 11 Unlock Company Profile
SafeAI 6 Unlock Company Profile
Doosan 6 Unlock Company Profile
Topcon 6 Unlock Company Profile
YANMAR POWER TECHNOLOGY 4 Unlock Company Profile
Epiroc 3 Unlock Company Profile
Robo Industries 3 Unlock Company Profile
Yanmar (Tokyo Office) 3 Unlock Company Profile
Horsch Maschinen 2 Unlock Company Profile
CNH Industrial 2 Unlock Company Profile
Toro 1 Unlock Company Profile
Horsch Leeb Application Systems 1 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 1 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Built Robotics is among the leading filers in autonomous excavators. The company, which leads in the automated construction equipment space, has filed a patent for an autonomous excavation vehicle that can navigate through a dig site and carrying out an excavation routine. Enabled through a system of sensors mounted to the vehicle to collect spatial, imaging, measurement, and location data representing the status of the excavator and its surrounding environment, the system allows the extraction vehicle to execute instructions as part of an excavation routine, as well as perform numerous additional tasks such as checking the volume of excavated earth in an excavation tool and helping to prepare a digital terrain model.

Other key patent filers in the autonomous excavation space include Kobe Steel, Komatsu, Caterpillar, Deere, and Husqvarna.

In terms of application diversity, Topcon is among the leading company, followed by Husqvarna and Newmont. In terms of geographic reach, Built Robotics and EquipmentShare are the leading companies.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the construction industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Construction.

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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.