DJI formalizes its new unit for the autonomous car. In Shanghai, the drones and stabilizers of the Shenzhen company have given way to a new branch: “DJI Automotive”, which is thus starting the race for the development of autonomous driving. Goal: Become an equipment supplier for other manufacturers and take over shares in Waymo (Google) and Huawei.
An electric and autonomous prototype
A first example in collaboration with the Baojun brand has just been presented. On this occasion, DJI was invited to the Chinese Metropolitan Exhibition, which just opened on April 19th. The new DJI company does not intend to address consumers directly, but rather to attract a B2B clientele: automobile manufacturers who want to integrate new devices for autonomous driving.
For this purpose, DJI Automotive will develop both the hardware and the software part. The modules will result in part from the brand’s work in drones that, over time, have incorporated high-precision sensors to provide autonomous pilot modes and avoidance functions. Ultrasonic and LiDAR sensors will be there.
In January 2020, the first LiDAR modules of the brand were presented at the CES in Las Vegas by the company Livox (incubated by DJI). So far, they have only fueled rumors and announced a crucial benefit. DJI launched radically cheaper modules compared to its competitors. Google, which offers more advanced devices, is lagging behind on the price list. It sells its LiDAR sensors for $ 5,000 versus $ 800 at Livox and DJI.
A large scale show
Choosing the Shanghai Lounge for DJI is not trivial. The Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, or the world’s largest gathering of tech companies, was a good place to announce their first modules. For the realization among the manufacturers, the Shanghai Auto Show is in the center of a market with more than 6.5 million sales in the first quarter of 2021.
Playing at home, DJI performs alongside its competitor Huawei as well as the new electric car brands, with Nio and Xpeng in the foreground. Overall, the Shanghai Auto Show 2021 has never invited 5G, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Objects and Big Data so much into its aisles. Quite a symbol.