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Chinese drone firm DJI builds team to work on self-driving tech: job posts, sources

Reuters logo Reuters 1/14/2021 By Yilei Sun and David Kirton
a group of people standing in front of a building: FILE PHOTO: People wearing face masks following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak walk past DJI's flagship store in Shenzhen © Reuters/DAVID KIRTON FILE PHOTO: People wearing face masks following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak walk past DJI's flagship store in Shenzhen

By Yilei Sun and David Kirton

BEIJING/SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) - China's SZ DJI Technology Co, the world's largest drone maker, is building an engineering team to work on self-driving technologies, according to job posts and people familiar with the company's strategy.

The Shenzhen-based company is hiring engineers for auto electronics, autonomous driving, and in-car software, job posts on its website show.

Three people said DJI plans to sell driver-assist technology such as lidar sensors, a key component in self-driving cars, and packaged solutions for autonomous driving functions.

All sources spoke on condition of anonymity as the details are not public yet.

DJI said it had no new announcements at the moment.

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DJI has been developing lidar technology and cameras for years, two of the sources added.

In 2020, Livox, a startup with links to DJI, displayed two lidar sensors for autonomous vehicles at a Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng Inc has said it would use Livox's lidar technology for self-driving functions.

DJI's move comes as several hardware and software tech firms are racing to tap into the auto industry's autonomous future.

Huawei Technologies, which makes communications machines and smartphones, has launched a car business unit and is developing sensors. Baidu, which has been working on autonomous driving and smart car technologies, has partnered with Geely to make its own cars.

DJI dominates the global small drone business with a 69% market share, according to consultancy DroneAnalyst. Research firm Frost & Sullivan estimated the market would be worth $8.4 billion last year.

In December, the company was added to the U.S. Commerce Department's entity list, allegedly over its technology being used to facilitate human rights abuses in China.

(Reporting by Yilei Sun and David Kirton, additional reporting by Jane Lee; Editing by Himani Sarkar)


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