Shenzhen pushes back frontiers of drone technology

July 04, 2019 13:09
Shenzhen controls about 70 percent of the global consumer drone market, with DJI being the leading brand. Photo: AFP

Burnishing its reputation as the world's drone capital, Shenzhen hosted the biggest annual drone expo on June 20-22, with more than 1,000 unmanned aerial vehicles (AUVs) from some 400 domestic and foreign companies.

Compared with the last two expos, the Drone World Congress 2019 and the 4th Shenzhen International Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Expo showcased more varieties of unmanned vehicles, including drone boats and underwater drones, according to media reports.

Various deals were initiated and concluded during the event. The 10 exhibition areas featured a wide array of products, including police drones, fire drones, aerial drones, agricultural plant protection drones, mapping drones, logistics drones, electric patrol drones, air-ground rescue drones, anti-UAVs, and other UAV-related equipment.

Shenzhen is home to more than 360 drone enterprises, which recorded a transaction volume of over 40 billion yuan (US$5.82 billion) last year.

The southern Chinese city has a 70 percent share of the global consumer drone market. Its key edge is its complete drone supply chain. Drone makers can easily source their components in the city, including key parts such as aircraft flight control, navigation, image transmission, and power systems.

The industry also benefits from the rapid development of the smartphone business in Shenzhen.

Take as an example the aircraft flight control system, which is equivalent to the brain of the drone. Its main components include the gyroscope, accelerometer, and the Global Positioning System (GPS) module, which are also widely used in smartphones.

With the large scale production of mobile phones in Shenzhen over the years, not only can drone makers source components easily, they can piggyback on the miniaturization trend of smartphone parts to build drones that are smarter but also lighter and smaller.

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