Research and innovation in robotics in the retail sector has declined in the last year.

The most recent figures show that the number of robotics related patent applications in the industry stood at 21 in the three months ending March – down from 45 over the same period in 2021.

Figures for patent grants related to robotics followed a similar pattern to filings – shrinking from 16 in the three months ending March 2021 to 13 in the same period in 2022.

The figures are compiled by GlobalData, who track patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Using textual analysis, as well as official patent classifications, these patents are grouped into key thematic areas, and linked to key companies across various industries.

Robotics is one of the key areas tracked by GlobalData. It has been identified as being a key disruptive force facing companies in the coming years, and is one of the areas that companies investing resources in now are expected to reap rewards from.

The figures also provide an insight into the largest innovators in the sector. Inc was the top robotics innovator in the retail sector in the latest quarter. The company, which has its headquarters in the United States, filed nine robotics related patents in the three months ending March. That was the same as nine over the same period in 2021.

It was followed by the United Kingdom based Ocado Group Plc with nine robotics patent applications, China based Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (3 applications), and the United States based Walmart Inc (2 applications).