China’s military seeks to gain from commercial drone boom

China’s military seeks to gain from commercial drone boom


Cruising a quiet little bay in
China’s Pearl River estuary, these little white
boats look like toys. The unmanned vehicles
made by Yunzhou Technology are equipped with
sonar gear to scan the seas for water
pollution or map the seabed for natural resources. Equipped with a different kind
of gear, drone boats like these can function as war robots. The unmanned vehicle
industry is booming in China. The combination of
artificial intelligence and China’s
manufacturing prowess have spawned hundreds of
companies making drones with all kinds of
uses – driverless air taxis, unmanned delivery
vehicles, search and rescue. But the sector is
in the firing line from the growing rivalry
between China and the US. Washington fears that China’s
People’s Liberation Army could turn AI into an
unexpected military advantage. The US is therefore trying to
limit co-operation with China on technologies that could be
used not just for civilian, but also for military purposes. Such crossover is obvious
when it comes to drones. The AI software that enables
navigation, data collection, and management can be put to use
for environmental protection, but could also be
used to fight a war. Vehicles that can be fitted
with equipment for peaceful use, such as firefighting
and crop management, can also carry weapons, such as
guns or air to ground missiles. At the Zhuhai Air Show – China’s
biggest exhibition of aviation and defence equipment –
this is on open display. Sun Hawk, from the central
Chinese province of Henan, is offering the same drone model
as last-mile ecommerce delivery vehicles and as an
attack drone equipped with short-range missiles. This dual use profile
is highlighted by the close relationship
many of China’s drone makers have with the military. The Chinese Communist party
demands that the private sector engage in civil
military fusion, where technology worth
exploring militarily is put to the PLA’s use. Drone boat maker
Yunzhou Technology has partnerships with a number
of research institutions backed by the Chinese military. And that is hampering
efforts to grow in the US. There may be some obstacles
ahead for the industry. But there is no doubt
that China’s drone makers are at the forefront of
this emerging technology.

Eugene Islam

40 thoughts on “China’s military seeks to gain from commercial drone boom

  1. China is developing some interesting technology but its not really pushing the envelope, they simply seem to be better at improving and cost reducing over innovation

  2. I thought the large part is that military technology are encouraged to be transferred into civil use. Why turning the narrative around, and deliver such an agenda?

  3. Lol who didn’t see this coming with drones… moment humans made the first plane… they thought about dropping things from it. Humanity….

  4. The interpretation of the "civil-military fusion" is very misleading, the literal translation should be "military-civil fusion (军民融合)" . The Chinese Communist Party did call for a military-civil fusion, BUT, it is mainly for the military industry to engage in civil application, rather than the other way around. Because China does not export as many weapons as US and other western countries do, the military industry doesn't generate enough profit and almost exclusively runs on the government's budget. Its purpose to make the military industry self-sustainable, and pass down the military technologies to civilian product at the same time, so both sectors can benefit. The Chinese drone industry might be an exception in that the private sector might have got ahead of the military sector in some aspect due to the booming drone industry and technology in China. However, in most cases, it is the military industry that holds more advanced technology that can benefit civilian application. I think it is a general reality in across the globe and no one would argue about that.

  5. Small bird sized drones that fly in flocks and are explosive get sucked into jet intakes and explode. 25k "flying grenades" released at once as a swarm to attack ground troops like killer bees.

  6. I would expect that the Chinese military would include a hidden “dead man’s switch” in every drone they sell to a foreign military power. I would also expect that the focal AI included in these drones would allow the Chinese military to take command of any and all AI controlled technology they produce, if they so wish.

  7. well the ZTE situation has only shown to China that the US has a stranglehold on China if it wants by invoking sanctions whenever it pleases its political agenda. ZTE transgression was that it sold telecoms equipment to Iran which at the time was not subject to US sanction reversal. Also, the US slapped sanctions on China for buying Russian s400 which Turkey, India and the Saudis also purchased but were not sanctioned. This leads China to push even faster their 2025 strategy to ensure that they will not be held hostage to the US

  8. The world needs another superpower to balance itself America and nato have caused an unimaginable destruction and human suffering since the collapse of USSR all the weaker nation have survived from both powers because they were balancing one another. China’s raising power is badly needed not that I care about China but at least they can put the Western mayhem to a stop or at least make them think twice before they cause another destruction on different corners of the world

    America was more kinder, thoughtful, and friendlier during the USSR because they knew USSR could have given the Western advisories ICBM.

  9. Little white old lady cruising down pearl river delta seeming so nice but armed with bias and stupidity she can be an weapon of bigly…hugely damage… now that is funny

  10. Well done, China. Keep rising and don't take any criticism seriously. USA is the only currently illegaly occupying others. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You didn't steal land from natives. You didn't steal resources. You didn't drop nuclear weapons on others. Be proud and be patient. Your time will come!

  11. Expect China to lead in AI technology as well because of their data collection (IE) Facial recognition, social credit score, cashless transactions, etc.)

  12. "US fears" for God sake with biggest military budget in the world bigger than the rest of 15 military budgets combined if you still fear than you need to spend some billions on your mental health.

  13. China is the largest producer of commercial smaller drones to make money first rather than to make wars as their first priority. Chinese PLA has better big military drones like the Rainbow series which they sold to friendly countries like Iraq and Serbia to attack extremist elements. However, US and the West are primarily interested in these small commercial drone for military purposes like equipping friendly moderate brothers to attack Russian bases in Lakatia.

  14. China needs to supply everyone so they can defend themselves against America, so the balance power. China doesn't need to fight a bullet to win the war with America. Just As Pakistan and china Helped the Taliban against the soviet union in 1979 to late 1980's. we known America claimed all the credits but without China weapons and Pakistan's supported, the Soviet Union would destroy the Taliban with ease. That's why the Taliban still have a very friendly relationship with China till today

  15. Good for China and the world !

    The way to keep the Americans from controlling everything is by all other nations banding together like we see happening all around these days 🙂

  16. They're all copied from the US. Do not worry you can make them 22 trillion (US debt) times better. Go, Trump!

  17. DJI will make the commercial drones with AI intelligence.While the PLAAF will make TH-7 drones with weapons and AI intelligence.

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