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China's booming IT industry helps drones fly high

2016-03-14 07:14

By (China Daily)

China's booming IT industry helps drones fly high

A foreigner takes photos of a DJI-made drone. [Photo provided to China Daily]

"We used a method to build up the Ehang 184 that is totally different from the one used to build traditional passenger planes," Xiong said.

Chinese aircraft manufacturers still need time to master the science of achieving exacting precision in details, he said. But passenger-carrying drones are different as the manufacturer uses enough back-ups to make sure safety, including aspects related to rotors and batteries, is 100 percent, Xiong said.

"Actually, the idea came from the information technology industry as Ehang's engineers and designers had worked on IT systems in the past," he said.

China's civilian drone industry benefits from innovations happening outside it but, in terms of geography, are almost next door, so to say. "We can get all the sensor parts we need from no farther than 100 kilometers from our headquarters in Guangzhou," said Xiong. "Foreign manufacturers cannot even imagine this could be possible."

The manufacture of sensor parts in Guangdong province is a legacy of the Chinese mobile phone industry, which boomed here 10 years ago. There are plenty of parts suppliers as well as co-packers in the area.

"The mobile phone industry provided us ease of production in the area. The cost of production is also very low as the price of sensors is not high due to the negligible cost of transport," Xiong said. Small wonder, most of the civilian drone builders have set up shop in Guangdong province.

According to Shenzhen District Customs, around 99.9 percent of Chinese drone exports were from Shenzhen, Guangdong province, in the first seven months of 2015.