The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, sensors, GPS, and cloud. In the last three years alone, there have been over 156,000 patents filed and granted in the retail industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Internet of Things in retail: autonomous delivery vehicle navigation. Buy the report here.

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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.

50+ innovations will shape the retail industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the retail industry using innovation intensity models built on over 115,000 patents, there are 50+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, automated self-service kiosks and in-store theft monitoring are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Robotic warehouse management, autonomous delivery vehicle navigation systems, and interactive vending kiosks are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are NFC product tagging and smart PoS systems, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the retail industry

Autonomous delivery vehicle navigation is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Autonomous delivery vehicle navigation involves the deployment of self-driving vehicles for the autonomous transportation of goods or packages to specified destinations, eliminating the need for human intervention. These vehicles are equipped with advanced navigation systems that enable them to navigate roads and traffic with safety and efficiency, ultimately reaching their destinations. The navigation system relies on various technologies, including GPS, sensors, and mapping software, to meticulously plan and execute the delivery route.

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 70+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of autonomous delivery vehicle navigation.

Key players in autonomous delivery vehicle navigation – a disruptive innovation in the retail 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 delivery vehicle navigation

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Gogoro 213 Unlock Company Profile
Nuro 131 Unlock Company Profile
Cox Enterprises 126 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 99 Unlock Company Profile
Didi Global 64 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 60 Unlock Company Profile
Uber Technologies 55 Unlock Company Profile
eBay 40 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 32 Unlock Company Profile
Haystack Technologies 27 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 23 Unlock Company Profile
Brookfield 19 Unlock Company Profile
International Business Machines 19 Unlock Company Profile
Lyft 17 Unlock Company Profile
Ocado Group 16 Unlock Company Profile
Omron Tateisi Electronics 14 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 13 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 12 Unlock Company Profile
Dentsu Group 9 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 9 Unlock Company Profile
Grab 8 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 7 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 7 Unlock Company Profile
LG 7 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 7 Unlock Company Profile
Alibaba Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 7 Unlock Company Profile
Wrapify 7 Unlock Company Profile
SoftBank Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Citigroup 6 Unlock Company Profile
Omron 6 Unlock Company Profile
Aptiv 6 Unlock Company Profile
Here 6 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 5 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 4 Unlock Company Profile
Thryv 4 Unlock Company Profile
SK Telecom 4 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 4 Unlock Company Profile
PayPal 4 Unlock Company Profile
Iqzone 4 Unlock Company Profile
PLUNKETTS PEST CONTROL 4 Unlock Company Profile
NHN 3 Unlock Company Profile
Xiaomi 3 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 3 Unlock Company Profile
Navteq 3 Unlock Company Profile
Furukawa 3 Unlock Company Profile
GT Gettaxi 3 Unlock Company Profile
Blissway 3 Unlock Company Profile
OPTIMUM 3 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

American robotics company Nuro is one of the leading patent filers in autonomous delivery vehicle navigation. In 2022, Nuro signed a decade-long agreement with Uber Eats, heralding the deployment of Nuro's R2 autonomous delivery vehicles in California and Texas. Nuro's R2 autonomous vehicle is an all-electric delivery solution equipped with a navigation system, boasting a maximum speed of 45 MPH and a capacity to transport up to 500lbs of cargo. Some other key patent filers in the space include Gogoro, Cox Enterprises, Toyota Motor, and Didi Global.

In terms of application diversity, Gogoroleads the pack, while Nuro and Cox Enterprisesstood in the second and third positions, respectively. By geographic reach, Nuro holds the top position, followed by Cox Enterprises and Haystack Technologies.

A major advantage of autonomous delivery vehicle navigation is that it optimizes routes and boosts operational efficiency, while minimizing accident risks through real-time data and sensor-driven adaptability. This innovation is a cornerstone of last-mile logistics transformation, enriching delivery experiences and influencing urban planning by curbing congestion. It plays a pivotal role in resource optimization, road safety enhancement, and data-powered decision-making, thus shaping a cohesive, eco-conscious future for delivery networks.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things (IoT) in Retail and Apparel.

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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.