Chinese Drone Market Explodes

A police drone helicopter on display in Shandong,

After the world’s largest online retailer Amazon announced its plans to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for deliveries, several international companies, including Google, DHL and SF Express, a Chinese delivery services company, have cast their sights on the UAV market, Shanghai’s China Business News reports.

Currently, the global civilian UAV market is worth US$100 billion, given the trend of developing much smaller and smarter drones, the report stated.

The State Post Bureau and State Grid Corporation of China are also engaged in the development of UAV applications, it added.

At an international aviation development summit in Chengdu on Oct. 25, it was reported that China’s civilian UAV market is forecast to become worth 50 billion yuan (US$8.2 billion), with 400 companies being involved and due to the explosive growth expected in the market.

At present, more than 10,000 workers at about 300 to 400 civil UAV companies in China are involved in research and development, production and operations. In the near future, the country will need about 10,000 drones, industry insider Zhang Feng said.

The development of UAVs has driven down the cost of air transportation and the market for UAV applications in the logistics industry is expected to grow significantly, according to Zhang.

With the sharp reduction in the manufacturing costs of UAVs in recent years, more and more companies have started using UAVs for business use, including for film and photography, agriculture, industrial operations and in the entertainment sector, Zhang added.

Since the development of civil UAVs is still in its initial stages, accidents caused by human factors have often been reported, while problems with supervision, monitoring and management still remain unresolved, the report stated.

There is still a lack of regulation governing the sector and more studies will be needed on how to apply the civil aviation management system to the industry, Zhang added.


Zhang Feng 張峰