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Shenzhen expo highlights booming drone industry in China

Updated: Jun 26,2018 9:01 AM     Xinhua

SHENZHEN — Hundreds of civilian drones were displayed at the 2018 World Drone Congress and the Third Shenzhen International UAV EXPO 2018 which started on June 22 in Shenzhen.

The three-day event showed how unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), especially those powered by artificial intelligence (AI), are going to change people’s lives.

A mini drone can take selfies and fold into a cell phone case. Its manufacturer said it can hover in the air for up to four minutes at five meters.

At another corner, a group of colorfully lit drones gave a display of synchronized flying. They were the products of Shenzhen HighGreat Innovation Technology Development Co Ltd. According to its CEO Gao Jianmin, they are designed for purposes like weddings and other ceremonies and have been well-received by the market.

“In the open air, they can form the shape of a dolphin, a sea gull or a heart. The drones can deliver rings and flower bouquets,” said Gao.

Drones are increasingly used in the everyday life, beyond consumer level.

Chinese drone companies are emerging as strong competitors in fields like precision agriculture, public security, power line inspection, mapping, logistics, fire fighting and emergency rescue, said Yang Jincai, chairman of Shenzhen UAV Industry Association.

“The civilian drone industry is developing fast,” Yang said.

There were many industrial-level drones displayed at the expo, including one weighing 200 kilograms and able to carry 300 kg of fertilizer.

A firefighting drone can carry up to 25 kg of fire extinguishing agent, and reach points where firefighters cannot. A portable tilt-rotor drone designed for remote mapping weighs only 5.5 kg but has a cruising speed of 75 kilometers per hour.

Also, there were a number of intelligent drones equipped with obstacle avoidance, multi-point dropping of payload and other functions, which can be widely applied in emergency supplies, express delivery and others.

At present, China is leading in the drone industry thanks largely to DJI, a company based in Shenzhen that accounts for more than 70 percent of the world market, according to Skylogic Research, a firm tracking the drone industry.

According to the Shenzhen UAV Industry Association, there are now more than 1,200 companies engaged in development and production of drones and related components. In 2017, the output of Chinese civilian drones was 2.9 million, a rise of 67 percent year-on-year.