DJI formalizes its new entity for the autonomous car. In Shanghai, the drones and stabilizers from the Shenzhen firm have given way to a new branch: “DJI Automotive”, which is thus embarking on the race to develop autonomous driving. Objective: to become an equipment supplier for other manufacturers, and to take shares in Waymo (Google) and Huawei.
An electric and autonomous prototype
A first copy in partnership with the Baojun brand has just been presented. For the occasion, DJI was invited to the Chinese metropolis motor show which has just opened its doors on April 19. The new DJI entity does not intend to address consumers directly, but to attract a B2B clientele: car manufacturers looking to integrate new equipment for autonomous driving.
To do this, DJI Automotive will develop the hardware as well as the software part. The modules will partly result from the brand’s work in drones, which over time have integrated high-precision sensors to offer autonomous piloting modes and avoidance functionality. Ultrasonic and LiDAR sensors will be there.
In January 2020 at CES in Las Vegas, it was by the company Livox (incubated by DJI) that the brand’s first LiDAR modules were presented. So far, they have only fueled rumors, and announced a key advantage. DJI, compared to its competitors, launched radically cheaper modules on the market. Google, which offers more advanced equipment, is left behind on the price list. It offers its LiDAR sensors at $ 5,000 against $ 800 at Livox and DJI.
A major trade fair
Choosing the Shanghai lounge for DJI is not trivial. The Consumer Electronic Show de Las Vegas, or the number 1 gathering of tech companies in the world, was a good place to announce its first modules. But for the realization among manufacturers, the Shanghai auto show is at the center of a market of more than 6.5 million sales in the first quarter of 2021.
DJI plays at home, and appears alongside its competitor Huawei as well as the new brands of electric cars, with Nio and Xpeng in the foreground. Overall, the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show has never invited 5G, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Objects and Big Data so much to its aisles. Quite a symbol.