The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by digitalization, analytics, and cybersecurity, and growing importance of technologies such as robotics (including drones), predictive maintenance, and edge computing. In the last three years alone, there have been over 523,000 patents filed and granted in the oil & gas industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Internet of Things in oil & gas: pipeline inspection robots. 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.
60+ innovations will shape the oil & gas industry
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the oil & gas industry using innovation intensity models built on over 196,000 patents, there are 60+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, intelligent predictive maintenance, gas pipeline network monitoring, and smart oil & gas wells are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Oil well surveillance, embedded controllers, and FCEV fuel monitoring are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas is inspection robots, which is now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the oil & gas industry
Pipeline inspection robots is a key innovation area in Internet of Things
Pipeline inspection robots are robotic devices designed to inspect and provide information on the internal and external conditions of pipelines. They are equipped with cameras, sensors, and other tools to detect and evaluate problems such as corrosion, cracks, blockages, and leaks in pipelines without the need for human intervention.
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 160+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of pipeline inspection robots.
Key players in pipeline inspection robots – a disruptive innovation in the oil & gas 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 pipeline inspection robots
|Company||Total patents (2010 - 2022)||Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies|
|SZ DJI Technology||193||Unlock Company Profile|
|Gecko Robotics||64||Unlock Company Profile|
|GoPro||44||Unlock Company Profile|
|OMAX||30||Unlock Company Profile|
|China General Nuclear Power||26||Unlock Company Profile|
|Samsung Heavy Industries||25||Unlock Company Profile|
|State Grid Corporation of China||24||Unlock Company Profile|
|Autel Robotics USA||23||Unlock Company Profile|
|Shenzhen Bominwell Robotics||18||Unlock Company Profile|
|Fanuc||16||Unlock Company Profile|
|Hangzhou Shenhao Technology||15||Unlock Company Profile|
|National Grid||14||Unlock Company Profile|
|PowerChina Northwest Engineering||12||Unlock Company Profile|
|RedZone Robotics||11||Unlock Company Profile|
|Siemens||10||Unlock Company Profile|
|LG Display||9||Unlock Company Profile|
|Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory||9||Unlock Company Profile|
|Getinge||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|NEC||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|China National Petroleum||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Hon Hai Precision Industry||7||Unlock Company Profile|
|CKD||7||Unlock Company Profile|
|Qualcomm||7||Unlock Company Profile|
|Melrose Industries||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|CrossWing||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|Zerotech (Shenzhen) Intelligence Robot||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|Viettel Military Industry and Telecoms Group||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|Samsung Group||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|General Motors||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|Uni-President Enterprises||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|UBTECH Robotics||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|Wuhan Easy-Sight Technology||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|The Walt Disney||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|iRobot||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Southern Power Grid||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Beijing Drainage Group||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Shenzhen Autel Intelligent Aviation Technology||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Aegion||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sichuan Artigent Robotics Equipment||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Communications Construction Group||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|POSCO||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Dubai World||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Electricite de France||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Process Vision||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Shenzhen Sunwin Intelligent||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Country Garden||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Nanjing Tianchuang Electronic Technology||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Uni-President China||3||Unlock Company Profile|
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
DJI Technology is one of the leading patent filers in pipeline inspection robots for the oil & gas industry. Primarily known for its drone solutions, the company also offers image sensors for effective information gathering. Its Pipeline Integrity Management solution covers a range of products that can undertake general inspection, leak detection, and repair, and trigger emergency responses. Some other key patent filers in the space include Gecko Robotics and GoPro.
In terms of application diversity, Autonomous Control Systems leads the pack, while Gecko Robotics and National Grid stood in the second and third positions, respectively. Autonomous Control Systems produces drones for industrial applications and includes capabilities such as image processing, artificial intelligence (AI), and rapid prototyping to mass production. It has automated its pipeline inspection process with the help of cloud and AI technologies.
By means of geographic reach, Gecko Robotics held the top position, followed by OMAX and Siemens. Gecko offers full-stack robotic inspection and software modeling to its clients.
Pipelines are the most efficient method for transporting crude oil, petroleum products and natural gas. It is important to monitor the pipelines along their length for theft or leakages. Pipeline inspection robots are deployed to effectively monitor the pipelines to ensure reliable endpoint delivery of the resource being transported.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things in Oil & Gas.