There has been increasing scrutiny of Chinese manufacturers which is why the going has been tough for companies like Huawei. DJI, one of the most popular drone manufacturers, is based in Shenzhen, China. There have been concerns about its products too and while DJI has brushed them off, it’s now thinking about assembling drones meant for the United States on U.S. soil, in California, to be precise.
Harry Wingo of the National Defense University told the Senate Transportation Subcommittee last week that with drones from China, “American geospatial information is flown to Chinese data centers at an unprecedented level. This literally gives a Chinese company a view from above of our nation.”
DJI has responded to the concerns in a letter to TechCrunch. It says that “We are deeply concerned that, left unchecked, the unsubstantiated speculation and inaccurate information presented during your Subcommittee hearing will put the entire U.S. drone industry at risk, causing a ripple effect that will stunt economic growth and handcuff public servants who use DJI drones to protect the public and save lives.”
It explains that DJI drones don’t share flight logs, photos or videos unless the drone pilot chooses to do so deliberately. No flight data is sent automatically to China or anywhere else and the same goes for photos and videos. The data is stored only on the drone or the pilot’s mobile device so DJI can’t share customer data that it never receives in the first place.
It also points out that the professional pilot app for its drones has a setting to disconnect all internet connections as additional protection for pilots that are performing sensitive flights.
Nevertheless, with increased scrutiny of its actions, DJI is now looking to assemble some of its products in the United States. It’s going to repurpose a warehouse in Cerritos, California for building the drones that it sells in the United States in order to ensure better compliance with government regulations.
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