DJI’s dominance of the consumer segment has forced the thousands of other drone manufacturers in China to fight for survival in the wilderness of commercial applications. The result is a flourishing and highly creative industry sector. Partnerships with various institutions — law enforcement, advertising agencies, energy companies, governments, the military, and technology companies — are now standard among drone companies. More than any other country, the drone is latching itself onto the very fabric of China’s economy: Ecommerce giant JD.com, China’s second-largest online retailer, for example, is already integrating its drones with its delivery networks to cover 100 rural villages. (In the U.S., Amazon’s own drone program, known as “Prime Air,” is still in its early testing phase.)
China is also a major player in the global military drone trade. Over the past decade, it has delivered 220 armed drones to 16 countries, including Nigeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, according to the research institute Sipri. China remains fifth behind the U.S. in overall arms exports, but it has become the go-to drone dealer for the world.
Chinese military drones are produced by state-owned companies, in contrast to consumer drones, whose producers are almost all privately funded. But the government is increasingly involving itself in the commercial drone sector. It has opened airspace, known as Unmanned Civil Aviation Experimental Zones (UCAEZs), to commercial drone makers like EHang (Nasdaq: EH) — the only publicly listed drone company out of China — to test aerial tourism, aerial firefighting, search and rescue, and more. The government wants its drone industry to grow to $27 billion in total output by 2025.
So who are the players in the Chinese drone market?
Utilizing Chinese-language sources, SupChina has compiled information on the most important drone companies in China. They include companies involved in drone R&D, drone manufacturing, military uses, and drone services and accessories. Applications are organized into the following categories:
- Public safety
- Disaster alleviation
- Firefighting and emergency response
- Infrastructure management
- Environmental protection
- Smart city management
- Passenger transport
- Topographic analysis
- Drone accessories
List of Chinese drone makers
Roughly organized by application and size (click to jump to each entry; to jump back here, click on any logo):
- High Great
- Shenzhen Damoda
- China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA)
- Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC)
- Jincheng Aviation
- Micromulticopter Aviation (MMC)
- Air Dwing
- Yuanmu Holding