Chinese Drone Giant DJI Denies Setting up New Team to Develop Self-driving Tech

A DJI store in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. The Chinese drone manufacturer said it is not setting up an engineering team to work on autonomous driving solutions. (Source: DJI)

Chinese drone manufacturer DJI said the company has not established a new engineering team to work on self-driving technologies, refuting a Reuters report citing job posts and people familiar with the company’s strategy.

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Three people who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said DJI is building an engineering team to develop self-driving applications and plans to sell driver-assistance technology such as lidar sensors — a key component in self-driving cars — as well as packaged solutions for autonomous driving. Two of the sources added that DJI has actually been developing lidar technology and cameras for years.

“DJI has always focused on R&D and innovation, including the development of cutting-edge technology applications in the automotive field. The company has been working on these areas for years, and we have not established a new engineering team recently,” a person related to the company told Sina Finance.

A check on DJI’s website shows the Shenzhen-based company hiring engineers for auto electronics, autonomous driving, and in-car software.

In 2020, Livox, a startup with links to DJI, displayed two lidar sensors for autonomous vehicles at a Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Reuters reported. Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng said it would use Livox’s lidar technology on its models.

Pandaily has reached out to DJI for comment.

DJI dominates the global small drone business with a 69% market share, according to consultancy DroneAnalyst. 

In December, the company was added to the U.S. Commerce Department’s entity list, meaning the company is now deemed a national security concern to the US and banning American businesses from exporting technology to the firm.