China Announces they Are Creating Dedicate Drone Testing Zones For New Drone Technology

There is no denying that drones have become the next big thing. Drones are being used in countless fields, both recreationally and commercially. The drone market is positioned to create more than 100,000 new jobs by 2025 in the United States alone. But there is still a lot that needs to be studied about drones and the technology that supports them. To ensure that drones can reach their maximum potential, The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has designated drone test sites throughout the US. This past October, The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced that they too were creating dedicated drone testing zones.

Producing and selling more drones than any other country, China has become a leader in the drone market. There are hundreds of drone companies in Shenzhen, the Silicon Valley of China, including DJI, EHang, and Yuneec. Recently there has been a lot of contention over the use of drones made in China being used in America. The Department of Interior has banned the internal use of drones made in China or with Chinese made components. The US claim is that such drones can be used by China to spy on Americans. China argues that it is simply a means of controlling trade markets and boosting American made products. Regardless, China is continuously moving forward in advancing the drone industry.

The CAAC is stepping up their game with the introduction of a collection of Unmanned Civil Aviation Experimental Zones (UCAEZs) to advance drone capabilities. These new zones will be used to test drones through countless simulations and practical experiments. EHang is set to be one of the first companies to take advantage of the new UCAEZs. “The list of UCAEZs covers as many as 13 cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Hezhou, Hangzhou, Zigong, Anyang, Nanjing, Tianjin, Yulin, Shenyang, Dongying, Anqing, and Ganzhou,” said a press release from EHang who is hoping to see their transportation drone become a permanent fixture in cities throughout China.

In January 2016, just two years after being founded, EHang introduced the EHang 184 at the Las Vegas, NV Consumer Electronics Show. The EHang 184 amazed audiences with the possibility of being a drone that could transport people around a city. “Our mission,” as stated on EHang’s website, “is to make safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly air mobility accessible to everyone.” They envision a world made up of Smart Cities through the use of autonomous aerial vehicles. The new UCAEZs will provide EHang with the ideal environments to test their air mobility fleets.

EHang has perfected the drone taxi called the EHang 216, an autonomous aerial vehicle that can rapidly transport people through highly congested cities. Based on the design of the passenger transport drone, EHang has also developed the first large payload intelligent firefighting drone. While many firefighters use small drones in several capacities, none compare to the EHang 216F which is virtually a flying emergency vehicle. Along with the 216 and 216F, EHang has also developed the 216L, a delivery drone that can transport packages up to 400lbs. But to see all of these drones make it to market EHang needs to be able to test them in every possible scenario.

Being able to fully utilize the new UCAEZs, Ehang will have a safe environment to conduct all the research needed to see their drone platforms made ready for public and private use. The CAAC hopes the UCAEZs will go beyond just providing drone testing zones. They hope it will also encourage the development of new drone companies, and the strengthening of those already established. While the Chinese drone market may have had a slight setback when the United States claimed that Chinese made drones posed security risks, they are not letting that slow them down. The UCAEZ sites are located in some of the biggest cities in China. Just the maintenance of the test zones alone is set to create thousands of jobs. China is not about to back down from its ranking as the number one country driving the global drone market.

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