Drones: Putting China’s economy on autopilot

by admin June 4, 2016 at 7:53 am

The global drone market has been rapidly expanding, attracting loyal consumers while integrating itself as an emerging pillar in the technological sector. One country that has seen an extremely rapid rise in drone growth in terms of usage and production is China. Already heavily invested in producing intermediate parts for other aerospace vehicles, the Chinese are starting to prove themselves a drone-manufacturing powerhouse — and eager consumer base.

As an up-and-coming sector of technological innovation, in which China invested 1.3 trillion yuan in 2015 (comprising over 2 percent of the GDP), drones are set to bolster the growth of the Chinese economy in the future.

Drones and economic growth

Drones will continue to support economic growth in China because it is a pillar of technological innovation, something China needs to drive its economy (as opposed to simply mass manufacturing disposable goods). “Indigenous innovation” campaigns and programs targeting innovation in the technological sector have been launched by both governmental and private entities.

Investors in the U.S. are already seeing the potential for economic growth in this Chinese market, with Intel investing $60 million in Chinese manufacturer Yuneec in August 2015 (with another $67 million in eight other Chinese drone companies that followed). CBInsights reported investments totaling nearly $500 million in the drone sector alone in 2015.

Additionally, ZDNet reports drone exports totaling more than US$413 million, with projections slated to only keep increasing. This embrace of technological innovation has allowed drones to become an ever-growing part of technological R&D in China, making it inevitable for drones to become a significant part of increasing China’s GDP in the future.

Governmental support

By enthusiastically embracing technology changes in its systems, the Chinese government is one of the primary reasons drones have been integrated into Chinese society so well. Instead of outright litigation or banning of new technologies, the Chinese government has chosen to regulate them. With drones, China’s Civil Aviation Authority released a series of regulations in early 2016, categorizing UAVs into seven classes based on weight and size and setting rules about flying near populated regions.

Innovations in drones seek to bring a high-tech approach to bolster the country’s lagging agricultural economy.

The widespread use of drones by both Chinese civilians and the government will help contribute to economic growth. The Chinese government is using drones for a variety of tasks, from the municipal level all the way to the national stage. Chinese individuals are using drones for aerial photography and construction/real estate purposes, among others, while Chinese companies use drones to protect oil/gas interests and help boost China’s agricultural sector.

Government services

Municipal level

Government services on a local level will greatly improve because of the Chinese integration of drones at the village and municipal level. Emergency medical services and public safety mandates will see the most improvement, something that is already happening at the local level.

In 2014, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck Ludian County, located in the Yunnan Province in southwest China. This earthquake leveled more than 12,000 homes, killing more than 600 people and displacing another 200,000.

Because of the dense rubble and vegetation in the mountainous area, the China Association for Disaster and Emergency Response Medicine (CADERM) teamed with private industry drone pilots to rapidly search for survivors and assess the damage. These UAVs provided responders with a bird’s eye view of the damage, allowing them to prioritize their search and rescue efforts.