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Intel invests $60m in Chinese drone company Yuneec

Intel's $60m investment follows smaller investments in two other drone manufacturers as part of the chip maker’s strategy to gain ground against competitors

Intel has invested more than $60m in Chinese drone maker Yuneec International as the US company seeks to entrench its chip technology in the fledgling unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market.

The companies said they will work on developing future products together for consumers and industrial users, but provided no other details of their collaboration.

Yuneec makes a range of drones built for aerial photography and imaging. Its technology also powers manned electric aircraft.

“We’ve got drones on our roadmap that are going to truly change the world and revolutionise the drone industry,” said Intel chief Brian Krzanich in a video (see below).

“At Intel, we believe in a smart and connected world, and one of the best ways to bring that smart and connected world to everyone everywhere has been drones,” he said.

Drone wars

The move follows smaller investments in drone companies Airware and PrecisionHawk, which analysts say is part of Intel’s strategy to gain ground against ARM-based CPUs in the UAV market.

Intel competitor Qualcomm has invested in US drone maker 3D Robotics, according to the Seeking Alpha financial website, while Yuneec’s Chinese rival DJI Technology raised $75m funding in May 2015.

Venture capitalists and companies are investing in drone technology on the expectation that UAVs will prove beneficial for consumers and industrial customers.

Both Amazon and Google are testing drones developed for delivering goods to customers, while Sony has launched a drones as a service business unit, that uses its image sensor technology. Facebook is testing a UK-developed drone to enable internet connectivity in remote, unconnected areas.

Read more about drones

Bloomberg News notes that the Yuneec relationship fits with Intel’s strategy to invest in companies developing products with the potential to expand the market for semiconductors, as the company searches for new markets for its chips.

Intel’s drone funding is similar to its investments in next-generation datacentre software companies such as Mirantis and Cloudera, Bloomberg said.


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