The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by security, supply chain optimization, and risk mitigation, and the growing importance of technologies such as cloud, artificial intelligence, robotics, and sensors. 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: modular autonomous delivery bots. 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.
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
Modular autonomous delivery bots is a key innovation area in Internet of Things
Modular autonomous delivery bots represent a delivery system employing modular devices capable of independent transportation of delivery items. These systems are equipped with autonomous features, enabling them to autonomously navigate, avoid obstacles, and carry out deliveries without human intervention. Furthermore, the modular design facilitates customization and easy replacement of components when needed.
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 110+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of modular autonomous delivery bots.
Key players in modular autonomous delivery bots – 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 modular autonomous delivery bots
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Leading patent filers in the modular autonomous delivery bots include Toyota Motor, Cox Enterprises, Walmart, Nuro, and Didi Global. In 2022, Walmart initiated trials of robotic vending machines near its headquarters. These autonomous delivery robots were deployed in the store's parking lot, providing snacks and beverages to customers waiting for curbside pickup.
Oshkosh is the leading company in modular autonomous delivery bots, while Cox Enterprises and Emerging Automotive are in the second and third positions, respectively.
A major advantage of modular autonomous delivery bots is that it is reshaping last-mile delivery. It also offers optimum efficiency, cost savings, adaptability, autonomously navigating routes, and reducing labor expenses. Their modular design caters to varied payload sizes and delivery needs. More retail companies are adopting modular autonomous delivery bots to drive their efficiency. 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.