DJI, the world’s largest consumer drone maker, unveiled plans this week to assemble drones in California and make high-security drones for the US government. The plan follows the Chinese company in recent months being warned about security concerns by the US.
The Chinese company will start building drones at a plant in California, which will be DJI’s first assembly line located outside of Shenzhen, China, the company said in a statement on Monday.
The new US production line aims to “meet the growing demand in the market,” DJI said in a separate statement to the media, according to a Tencent News report. DJI’s manufacturing line in California, which carried out assembly tests in January, showed “positive results” and is currently pending approval from relevant US departments, the report added.
DJI’s announcement to assemble products in the US follows the company sending an open letter to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, in which it rebutted security concerns that its products have security risks to the country.
“DJI drones do not share flight logs, photos or videos unless the drone pilot deliberately chooses to do so. They do not automatically send flight data to China or anywhere else. They do not automatically transmit photos or videos over the internet. This data stays solely on the drone and on the pilot’s mobile device. DJI cannot share customer data it never receives,” the company said in the open letter.
Emphasizing that DJI customers have full control of their data, the Chinese company also said its products help American businesses and government agencies, creates values for the US economy, and has helped the US enter the drone age safely.
At a hearing last week, Republican Senator Rick Scott said that Congress should outlaw the US sale of Chinese-made drones, while Democrat Senator Ed Markey said Americans who own Chinese-made drones are worried about individual privacy and security concerns, according to a Reuters report.
Last month, the US government issued an alert warning citizens that Chinese-made drones could be sending sensitive flight data to their manufacturers in China.
DJI owns about 80% of the market share in the US, and is believed to be a major target in the latest warning.
The source code leak is estimated to have caused $170,000 in damages.
A number of employees have been fired but the full extent of the problem is unknown.
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