Intel just announced a more than $60 million investment into Shanghai-based drone maker Yuneec. The news comes the same week that fellow Chinese drone company Ehang raised $42 million, and Sony unveiled its own drone prototype due out in early 2016.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich called Yuneec’s technology “a game changer in the drone industry,” and said the investment falls in line with Intel’s vision of a “smart and connected world” propelled in part by the evolution of drone technology.
Yuneec’s main rival in China, SZ DJI Technology, also raised $75 million at an $8 billion valuation earlier this year. Intel has notably previously invested in drone companies PrecisionHawk (a $10 million Series B in November) and Airware (an undisclosed amount in April).
Yuneec’s chief executive Tian Yu said that a controller with a built-in screen, as well as a smart mode, makes the hardware “very easy to learn” for beginners. He added that new users will be able to “take off in five minutes” of getting their hands on it.
“Together, we believe we can make drones that will truly change the world,” Krzanich said. Yuneec’s Typhoon Q500 model, which comes with 4K video recording, can be set up to automatically follow a user’s movements on the ground.
Amazon, Facebook, and Google are all testing their own drones. Intel’s move is unlikely to be the last big investment we hear of in the space this year.
While neither company specifically stated what the new funds will be used for, we have reached out to Yuneec for comment, and will update you if we hear back.
The announcement video, which includes footage of Yu test-flying the drone, is included below: