China's drone market set to hit $15b this year

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated:  July 25, 2022 L M S

China's drone industry is gaining momentum thanks to strong demand from low-attitude economy, and the output value of domestic drone market is expected to exceed 100 billion yuan ($14.8 billion) this year, expert said.

China, a key civil drones industrial base in the world, witnessed rapid growth last year, financial media outlet Yicai reported. Data showed there were more than 12,000 drone enterprises, with total output value topping 87 billion yuan.

In Shenzhen alone, there are over 1,500 drone makers, and the output value reached nearly 60 billion yuan. Consumption-type drones accounted for 70 percent of the global total, while industrial-type drones grasped a 50 percent market share.

Since 2020, despite the COVID-19 outbreak, China's drone market bucked the trend and maintained a 30 percent growth thanks to contactless delivery and smart applications, Yang Jincai, director of the Shenzhen Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Industry Association, said at the 6th Drone World Congress, which was held in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on July 23-24.

This year, domestic drone market value is expected to exceed 100 billion yuan, Yang said.

Low-attitude public airway network is a key part of China's multidimensional transportation system, and it is an inevitable trend to further opening-up of the low-attitude airspace in order to achieve better development of low-attitude economy.

Compared with the highway network, there is no ready-made low-attitude airway network. Drone operators have to complete airspace application, airway plan and risk assessment by themselves, keeping a lid on low-attitude development and low-attitude economy.

At present, Sichuan, Hunan, Hainan and Jiangxi provinces are pushing forward the reform of low-attitude airspace management, giving support to the large-scale utilization and commercialization of drone application.

Data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China showed that by the end of 2021, there are 781,000 registered drone users, and the number of registered drones totaled 832,000.

The world congress predicted that by 2024 domestic drone market is expected to be worth 160 billion yuan, including 45 billion yuan in geographical mapping, 36 billion yuan in agriculture, forestry and plant protection, 30 billion yuan in logistics and express delivery services, 26 billion yuan in powerline inspection and 23 billion yuan in security guard.

Among these, logistics is a key sector for drone applications.

The government is putting more efforts to support a batch of leading companies to develop drone logistics, and release more low-attitude airspace resources, said Li Jian, former deputy head of the Civil Aviation Administration and a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Among the 13 national pilot zones in developing drones, there are two focusing on drone logistics, and three on drone delivery in cities. Furthermore, companies like JD.com, SF Express, Meituan, ZT Express, Cainiao and China Post all put more efforts into developing large-scale logistics drones, building airway logistics network.