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: robotic excavators. 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.

Robotic excavators is a key innovation area in robotics

Robotic excavators refer to machines that are used for digging, moving, and transporting heavy objects. These machines can either be automated or remotely controlled and are designed to perform repetitive and strenuous tasks in construction, mining, and other industries.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of robotic excavators.

Key players in robotic excavators – 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 robotic excavators

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Caterpillar 50 Unlock Company Profile
Built Robotics 44 Unlock Company Profile
Komatsu 16 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 9 Unlock Company Profile
Doosan 9 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 7 Unlock Company Profile
CNH Industrial 6 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 6 Unlock Company Profile
Atlas Copco 5 Unlock Company Profile
SafeAI 5 Unlock Company Profile
Intsite 5 Unlock Company Profile
Epiroc 3 Unlock Company Profile
Toro 1 Unlock Company Profile
Robo Industries 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Caterpillar, Built Robotics, and Komatsu are some of the leading patent filers in robotic excavators. The Exosystem™ by Built Robotics allows excavators to turn into robots and function autonomously. The system integrates various components, including sensors, software, and safety features, to provide a comprehensive autonomous enhancement for excavators. Additional features include GPS, liquid-cooled computer, 360° cameras, and proximity radar. Some other key patent filers in the robotic excavators space include Hitachi, and Doosan.

In terms of application diversity, SafeAI leads the pack, while Atlas Copco  and Epiroc stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Built Robotics held the top position, followed by Hitachi, and Doosan.

The use of robotic excavators is on the rise, with the primary goals of enhancing efficiency, bolstering safety measures, and elevating the precision and accuracy 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.