Insight
Drone industry sees steady growth
Last Updated: 2016-10-22 13:43 | CE.cn
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By Dong Bijuan

At the 6th China International UAS Conference & Exhibition (UAS 2016) on September 20, Li Shengfei, sales manager of Shanghai UVS Intelligence System Co., Ltd., described China's UAS industry as "rather promising'. According to him, as more and more purposes of UAS are mined and capital floods in, the whole industry is rather vigorous.

Consumer UAS growing towards segmentation

On the exhibition, DJI UAS exhibition zone received many visitors. The DJI M600 UAS is positioned at professional video and film can carry various interchangeable lens digital cameras and SLR cameras, just like holding the lens at hands. "Wu" series UAS can achieve instant take-off and eliminate the trouble of unstable take-off, while the camera and flight control parameters can also be controlled via mobile devices.

In the consumer UAS field, in addition to such leading enterprises as DJI, other enterprises also remain competitive and make great efforts to seek differentiated development paths. In front of the exhibition stand of Keyshare, one petty and cute UAS attracted many people for inquiry. "This UAS is mainly for selfie. We will gain competitive advantages by higher cost performance through focusing on certain segmented fields", Liu Kai, one employee of Keyshare. By taking advantage of constant technology innovation and higher cost performance, Keyshare has received not only recognition on the domestic market but also orders from Mexico, the Middle East and African countries.

Since the beginning of this year, many consumer UAS manufacturers have made mini UAS as the featured products. According to analysis of insiders, it is to avoid competition with big enterprises and seek survival and development through differentiated development, given DJI has taken up 70 percent of the global consumer UAS market.

According to prediction of a professional institute, it is expected that China's consumer UAS market will achieve RMB 30 billion yuan roughly by 2025. At present, the US has remained and the largest UAS consumption country with a proportion of 35 percent following by Europe accounting for 30 percent of the market, while China's domestic revenue has occupied 15 percent of the global total. China's consumer UAS market has not been opened completely. "At present, though the development trend of consumer UAS industry is sound, it will take a longer time to change the consumption view of the public," said Liu Kai.

Industrial UAS still being a "blue ocean"

"The client bases of consumer UAS exceed that of industrial UAS. However, the tasks that can be fulfilled by industrial UAS are unattainable by the consumer UAS," said Chen Jie, an engineer of Winhye in the interview with the journalist of Economic Daily. Industrial UAS requires higher integration, automation and stability and each system should have sound integration. Currently, most China's industrial UAS enterprises have remained at the system integration stage and there are few enterprises of integrated and whole-chain research and development from flight control system to flight body.

"Since the beginning of this year, we have sold 180 UASs and it is expected that 250 will be sold in total this year. The sales volume next year is expected to see sharp increase", said Wu Zhiyuan, sales manager of Jouav. The good market of the products lies in the whole-chain automation in research, production, sales and training and even the core flight control system is developed independently. As a result, the cost can be controlled and the cost performance improved." Meanwhile, our products are of "rather easy" operation design, making products affordable and convenient to use," said Wu Zhiyuan.

Wu Zhiyuan believed that the consumer UAS is just like a red ocean, while the industrial UAS is a blue ocean. Given sound solutions have not been developed for cost road administration, security, anti-terrorism, logistics and many other fields, people are still watching for these fields. Related industries have their own rules and threshold and have a relatively lower acceptance level to UAS. "This is a challenge and also a momentum to promote rapid development of the industrial UAS industry," said Wu Zhiyuan.

According to an expert, industrial UAS is mainly applied for mapping, petroleum, electricity, forestry, ocean, exploration and other fields and has also achieved breakthroughs in drug and smuggling suppression, border patrol, security, anti-terrorism and disaster relief and rescue, expanding its application. Restricted by technical capacity, production scale, professionals and distribution channels, China's industrial UAS has still remained at its early stage. However, its development prospect cannot be underestimated given it is a promising "cake".

Avoiding low-end homogeneous competition

A set of data provided by Li Xiaoxuan, project manager of Luoyang Institute of Electro-optical Devices, Aviation Industry Corporation of China, may reflect well the development momentum of the UAS. "Our electro-optical pods used for UAS have remained increase in sales volume by 30 percent-50 percent per year recently". It is expected that China will achieve a sales volume of 290,000 UASs by 2020 and it will also remain an increase above 50 percent in the following years.

"At present, China's UAS industry is confronted with homogeneous competition, cheap copy, copycat and plagiarism." Wu Zhiyuan said that some manufacturers also marched into the market though having not studied flight dynamics, machine, control and software. Without industry accumulation and great number of trials and errors as well as solid technical support, it is difficult to assure the product quality. "Such a rule is rather obvious in industrial UAS, which is an epitome of the aviation industry and therefore it would be hard without technology accumulation," said Wu Zhiyuan.

Certainly, the rapid development of the UAS industry requires synchronous following of regulation. Liu Hao, secretary-general of UAS System Special Committee, Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics and deputy director of National Aviation Management Regulations & Laws Research Center suggested that "Though China's UAS is developing rapidly; the regulation over it is confronted with huge challenges. For China has taken the lead in the industrial field and lacks specific experience to learn, it is in urgent need to release related laws and regulations for effective management."

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