The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the need to improve safety and efficiency, and reduce environmental impacts, and the growing importance of technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and big data. 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 Robotics in oil & gas: pipeline inspection robots. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 196,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the oil & gas industry, there are 60+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Pipeline inspection robots is a key innovation area in robotics

Pipeline inspection robots are robotic devices designed to inspect and provide visual information on the internal 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 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

SZ DJI Technology is one of the leading patent filers in pipeline inspection through robots. The company offers drones designed for a range of functions such as general inspection, leak detection and repair, and emergency response. These drones provide a live view of the pipeline network to prevent vandalism and theft. These are especially useful to survey large areas and precisely identify the site of the leakage or anomaly. Some other key patent filers in pipeline inspection robotics include Gecko Robotics, GoPro, and OMAX.

In terms of application diversity, Gecko Robotics leads the pack, while Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory and National Grid stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Gecko Robotics held the top position, followed by OMAX and Siemens.

Oil and gas companies are increasingly using robots for pipeline inspection to eliminate human intervention, increase accuracy, and improve the efficiency of operations.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Robotics in Oil and Gas.

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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.