Manufacturing News

Xiaomi launches quadcopter drone, priced at $457

China's smart device manufacturer Xiaomi has branched out into the drone market as it unveiled its unmanned aerial vehicle at an exceptionally low price through live video streaming on its own app platform, which was watched by over 560,000 online audience members on Wednesday night.

The flagship 4K video-enabled MI drone, which resembles a dragonfly, was developed by third-party Chinese manufacturer FIMI Technology and costs only 2999 yuan, about US$457, more than 50 percent less than a comparable product from market leader SZ DJI Technology Co.

It also introduced an entry level device with a 1080p camera, which costs only 2499 yuan, around US$380.
Lei Jun, helmsman of Xiaomi Technology Corp, said the device is easy to use, enabling auto takeoff and auto landing with a simple tap of the controller, and has a solid performance of HD video recording with a battery life up to 27 minutes.

The affordable pricing for all products in Xiaomi's portfolio, including smartphones, tablets, headphones, and the newly-launched 4K devices, aims to ensure that quality experience is no longer the privilege of the few, says Lei.

Although drones are still largely seen as novelty items, business consulting firm Grand View Research expects that the consumer market will reach US$ 4.19 billion by 2024.

As the world's fifth largest smartphone manufacturer, the Beijing-based tech firm is vying for a share in the nascent but apparently booming consumer drone market as growth from its handset sector is slowing down in the Chinese market.

The entry level model will be launched on Xiaomi's own crowdfunding platform on May 26, while the 4K drone will be made available for early testing via an open beta program at the end of July, Lei revealed at the product launch.

The drone launch demonstrated another major step for Xiaomi to expand its ecosystem of connected devices following its introduction of a rice cooker, an air purifier and a self-balancing electric scooter.

There is definitely more to come. Lei mentioned that the company's research lab is working on robots and its first ever VR product will debut in either August or September.

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