Shenzhen buzzes with drone delivery as city logs 600,000 flights in 2023

The southern tech hub has been at the forefront of a drive across the nation to explore new applications for drone technology.

Drone delivery flights totaled more than 600,000 in Shenzhen last year, ranking first nationwide, the city’s authorities said yesterday.

In an official WeChat post, Shenzhen’s public transport bureau revealed that its logistics industry recorded revenue of around 350 billion yuan (US$48.64 billion) in 2023, an increase of 6% over the previous year.

Drone-powered delivery represents an increasing portion of the growing industrial ouptut.

Last year alone, Shenzhen launched 77 new drone delivery paths and built 73 new vertiports, with over 600,000 flights completed, official data suggest.

The southern tech hub has been at the forefront of a drive across the nation to explore new applications for drone technology.

The city is home to scores of drone companies, the most notable being DJI (大疆科技) and Phoenix Wings (丰翼无人机).

In addition to setting a new record in drone-enabled logistics, Shenzhen authorities said yesterday they had kicked off construction on a “low-air smart infrastructure.”

This term refers to a group of facilities necessary to the city’s aspirations to tap into a so-called “low-air economy.”

At the center of the group is “four networks,” covering the underlying facilities, aerial communication, flight route and related services, according to an outline released by the city government.

This outline puts forward a number of measures the city is set to take to bolster its aerial economy.

It makes a special mention of the need to reward firms involved in opening new drone delivery paths in Shenzhen — with at least the starting point or destination within its jurisdiction.

Authorities didn’t spell out the requirements for or the size of the reward, though.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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