DJI denies sending flight data to China, looks to manufacture in the U.S.
|DJI’s Mavic Enterprise Dual is used by government agencies to aid in numerous efforts.|
A little over a month ago, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) sent out an alert stating that drones manufactured in China presented a security risk. This past week, representatives from Da Jiang Innovations Science and Technology, better known as DJI, told a Senate subcommittee that the company does not automatically collect data, including flight logs and photos, from its users to share with the Chinese government.
In a letter addressing the Senate subcommittee, DJI’s Vice President and Regional Manager, Mario Rebello, outlined the numerous benefits drones provide both the private and public sectors. He also clearly stated that ‘DJI drones do not share flight logs, photos or videos unless the drone pilot deliberately chooses to do so [...] this data stays solely on the drone and the pilot’s mobile device. DJI cannot share customer data it never receives.’
Rebello also warned of potential economic fallout should the Chinese company fall victim to speculation coupled with unverified information presented to the Senate subcommittee at a hearing called Drone Security: Enhancing Innovation and Mitigating Supply Chain Risks. ‘We believe industry and government have a shared responsibility to build on this momentum and keep our skies open for safe and secure commerce and innovation. Unfortunately, some witnesses who appeared before the Subcommittee want to limit competition, innovation, and the availability of drone technology based solely on its country of origin,’ the letter adds.
‘We believe industry and government have a shared responsibility to build on this momentum and keep our skies open for safe and secure commerce and innovation.’
DJI supplies roughly 70 percent of the drones in the U.S. market, according to recent estimates. It offers up a diverse range of models including the Mavic Air and now a Government Drone. The latter is currently being developed and will not be able to transfer any data collected during flight wirelessly or online.
|Lightweight, compact, and versatile, the Mavic Air is popular among consumers.|
Unlike most of Huawei’s business, DJI has not been put on the Trump administration’s blacklist. Nevertheless, by establishing a manufacturing base in California, they hope it enables them to continue selling products in the U.S.
In response to the Trump administration’s recent crackdown on technology manufactured in China and escalating trade war, the Shenzhen-based company, which is privately held, plans to repurpose a warehouse in Cerritos, California, to assemble a variety of drones in its product line. While production in the Cerritos facility, which was formerly used to store inventory, will only represent a small fraction of DJI’s overall production, the company hopes that manufacturing on U.S. shores will help it fulfill some necessary federal requirements.
DJI plans to assemble 60 percent of its new Government Drone in Cerritos once approval by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is secured. Once verified, they can file for certification as the devices produced in the warehouse will satisfy the requirements set forth by the Trade Agreement Act. Under the Act, government agencies are required, by law, to purchase products made in the U.S.
‘This new investment will expand DJI’s footprint in the U.S. so we can better serve our customers, create U.S. jobs, and strengthen the U.S. drone economy,’ the company said in a statement. Building on this momentum, the company yesterday released its Government Edition hardware and software solutions aimed at local, state, and federal agencies.
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