DJI, a supplier of approximately 70 percent of all drones in the United States, announced this week that it will begin manufacturing some of its products in the U.S. DJI plans to repurpose a warehouse in Cerritos, California to assemble a new version of a drone that has been popular among federal and local government agencies — this will be called the “Government Edition.” This decision likely stems from the recent security concerns posed by the Trump administration that the drone could send sensitive surveillance data back to China, where the majority of its business and manufacturing facilities are located. While this change will only affect a small portion of its overall global production, it could help DJI meet some necessary federal requirements in the U.S.
This new Government Edition saves data collected by the drone only on the drone itself (instead of a cloud storage platform in China), and the information can be taken off the drone after it lands. Additionally, these drones cannot transfer any of the information wirelessly online. And, by manufacturing these drones in the U.S., DJI will be able to file for a certification that its devices meet requirements of the Trade Agreement Act (i.e., the law that requires that government agencies purchase products made in the U.S.). Until this change, government customers of DJI have been using waivers to circumvent this trade law. This change may also provide more comfort with security and safety of the drone.