Local UAV makers take flight

Shenzhen firms set pace in unmanned aerial vehicle production 
Shenzhen in Guangdong province has reinforced its leading position in the commercial unmanned aerial vehicle industry, with six of the top 10 Chinese UAV brands being manufactured by local companies, according to a ranking unveiled at the 2016 Shenzhen international UAV expo that ran from June 17 to 19. 
The expo attracted more than 100 exhibitors from around the world, who displayed more than 200 products. 
To date, Shenzhen-based UAV manufacturers have acquired more than 1,000 patents. 
Da-Jiang Innovations, or DJI, was founded in the city in 2006 and is now one of the most influential UAV manufacturers in the world with more than 600 patent applications globally and in excess of 400 granted patents, statistics from research institution EVTank show. 
Another Shenzhen UAV company, AEE Technology, has about 300 patent filings and more than 200 granted patents. 
According to EVTank, Chinese companies filed more than 3,000 patent applications in the sector last year, while the number for US companies was 226. 
In 2015 alone, DJI applied for 210 international patents with the State Intellectual Property Office through the Patent Cooperation Treaty, putting it in the top 10 of Chinese companies in terms of the number of PCT filings that year. 
According to Beijing-based consulting firm LonYuan IP, DJI ranked sixth last year in terms of the number of patent applications in China's UAV sector, with the first five places going to four universities and State Grid Corp. 
"The consumer UAV business is growing very fast in China, with some domestic companies leading the global trends," said Yang Jincai, head of the Shenzhen UAV Industry Association. 
He said Shenzhen accounts for about 70 percent of the small-sized civil-use UAV market, with more than 300 local companies achieving combined annual sales revenue of nearly 20 billion yuan ($3.04 billion). 
Last year, more than 3 billion yuan worth of UAVs were exported through Shenzhen, marking a 7.2-fold increase from 2014. The value accounted for about 95 percent of China's total UAV exports, said Yang. 
Industry insiders said the UAV business can be integrated with many traditional industries.
Aerial photography, entertainment, agriculture, forestry, security and electric power will be some of the focused fields in the UAV market, according to a report by iResearch Consulting Group. 
The report also estimates that China's UAV market will be worth 75 billion yuan by 2025. 
Yang said that many Shenzhen companies, such as DJI, AEE and Art-Tech, have become global leaders and their products have been used in a wide range of businesses, such as border patrol, maritime law enforcement, emergency care and mapping. 
In the crop protection business, UAVs have been used in 24 provinces and regions across China, involving products from about 150 companies and featuring nearly 190 models, said Zhou Zhiyan, a professor from South China Agricultural University. 
The market for crop protection UAVs and related services is expected to reach 30 billion yuan annually over the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20), according to a report by Guotai Junan Securities. 
However, the fast-developing UAV industry also has challenges, experts said. 
"Hundreds of UAV companies have emerged in China over recent years, and their products have great differences in size, power mechanisms and models," said Fan Dianliang, a researcher at the Testing Center for Quality of Security and Police Electronic Product under the Ministry of Public Security. 
He said a reasonable performance evaluation system for different types of UAVs is urgently needed for both UAV makers and buyers, and suggested that third-party organizations should test UAV systems. 
Fu Junhui, Party chief of the institute for UAV design at Beihang University, suggested companies pay attention to market demands. 
Chen Guangcheng, an official from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said that although the UAV business has great potential, it also poses potential threats to civil aviation security and personal safety. 

Source:China Daily

2005-2014 www.researchinchina.com All Rights Reserved 京ICP备05069564号-1 京公网安备1101054484号