CULTURE WEF expert: China is the global drone leader


WEF expert: China is the global drone leader


06:15, September 22, 2018


DJI introduces two additions to the drone Mavic series in New York, US on August 23, 2018. (Photo: VCG)

China is set to become a leading force in the world of drones, Harrison Wolf, the project lead at Civil Drones for Tomorrow's Commerce of the World Economic Forum (WEF) told CGTN in an exclusive interview at the Summer Davos in Tianjin, north China.

“Da-Jiang Innovations (DJI) has really been an industry standard all over the world for drones. Extensively, when somebody thinks about what drone is, they are most often thinking about DJI,” Wolf told CGTN.

Chinese drone company DJI has over 70 percent of the global market share for the commercial drone industry, with a revenue of 2.7 billion US dollars last year, according to Wolf.

The Shenzhen-based company innovates quicker than any other Western-based drone company, said Wolf. DJI has a completely integrated supply chain and has competitive advantages with its manufacturing pipeline and logistics support, according to Wolf.

“It's not the only instance where China has shown leadership. Unmanned traffic management, or the digital infrastructure layer [...] China has already shown large pilot projects on these topics to demonstrate their capabilities to develop data around that,” he said.

Wolf said that Shenzhen, Jiangxi and Sanya recently announced unmanned traffic management pilot projects that enable real-time coordination among drone operations over cities, which is one of the key elements for a commercial drone industry.

While China's online retailer JD.Com has built a drone-delivery network that covers 100 rural villages with 40 unmanned aircraft last year, Amazon in the US is still waiting for approvals to begin flight testing, said Wolf.

China begins its regulatory frameworks

China issued its first drone delivery permit this year, and SF Express became the first company with a Drone Operator License in China. 

“China, by issuing that first operator certificate, is beginning to get data. Everywhere in the world were trying to set up these pilot projects, but I don't think anyone has done in the scale or scope that China has,” Wolf told CGTN.

“It is the Chinese government's ability to invest heavily into the technology and aerospace sectors, while supporting both through regulatory agility that may be its greatest asset,” said Wolf.

“I think China is leading in many ways, they have strategic vision for the Fourth Industrial Revolution which includes drones, autonomous vehicles. And I would encourage other countries to do the same,” Wolf added.

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