Innovation makes drones more efficient in China

To celebrate Labor Day, a majestic drone light show was staged over the Yazhou Bay Science and Technology City in Sanya, in the southern island province of Hainan, providing viewers with a whole new sensory experience. During the show, 500 drones amazed the audience with various forms, such as farmers working in the fields and divers planting corals on the seabed.

The drones participating in the exhibition were piloted by the team of EFY Intelligent Control (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd. based in Tianjin. “These drones, including drones for aerial photography, mapping and crop protection, were independently developed by our team,” said company founder Qi Jiongtong. Hundreds of drones of various sizes are on display at the company’s factory, from more than a meter to the size of the palm of your hand.

Drones developed by EFY Intelligent Control (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd. were exhibited at the third China International Imported Goods Exhibition (CIIE) in 2020. These drones are mainly used for drone swarm shows. (Image/Digital Technology Network)

“Instead of developing a single drone, my team is focusing more on autonomous control technologies for swarms of intelligent drones, especially control consistency during flight, to avoid drones with different trajectories colliding,” Qi Juntong explained.

In order to ensure that the drones fly in a coordinated manner without interfering with each other, Qi Jiongtong and his team created a comprehensive and intelligent drone flight test system by overcoming many technological difficulties. The system managed to limit the control error of a swarm of drones to a few centimeters.

February 21, 2022 EFY Intelligent Control (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd. offered to hold a drone light show to pay tribute to the Olympic spirit in the city of Wanning, Hainan Province (South China). (Photo/EFY Intelligent Control (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd.)

“We are committed to a breakthrough in autonomous control technology for intelligent drone swarms, which are widely used in areas such as patrolling, security, logistics, and transportation,” said Qi Jiongtong.

Last summer, the EFY team became the individual champion of the high-level drone swarm competition. For a drone swarm to win the competition, the team leader said, it must be able to fly, identify and locate multiple moving vehicles, and track them at close range based on the independently changing number on the vehicle.

On December 18, 2020, a drone light show held at Tianjin University by EFY Intelligent Control (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd. set the Guinness World Record for the longest drone animation. During the show, 600 drones formed various images depicting the life of the famous Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. (Photo/EFY Intelligent Control (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd.)

When the team added a dedicated drone network (FANET), the drones can communicate with each other. Using cameras, artificial intelligence algorithms, and intelligent decision-making algorithms, the team enabled multiple drones to perform regular vehicle tracking throughout the process.

“The results of scientific research should be tested in the market. If they are not well received by the market, it will be difficult to commercialize the results of innovation,” said Qi Juntong. He founded EFY in 2015 to use technology in commercial areas such as drone swarm shows because it is one of the most direct ways for the general public to understand the application of drone swarm management technologies.

The spectacle of drone swarms is also the first step towards the integrated application of drone swarm management technologies. Last year, EFY hosted 277 drone shows with 168,730 successful takeoffs and landings.

The company has filed 257 patent applications related to drones. “In 2021, our company produced about 10,000 drones of various types, quadrupling our total operating income compared to the previous year,” said Guo Jing, deputy general manager of the company.

“We are lucky that we are living in better times,” said Qi Jiongtong, explaining that governments at all levels have given priority to innovative development, which has allowed the company to focus on technological breakthroughs to conquer the market and grow rapidly.

When EFY was first created, she had to share an office with another company. Today, EFY has moved into its new premises of more than 10,000 square meters and has become a national-level high-tech enterprise. I didn’t expect our company to develop so quickly,” Qi Jiuntong added.

EFY is located in Tianjin’s Binhai-Zhongguancun Science Park, which once housed mainly industrial plants, including the chemical industry. Today, more than 40 companies engaged in the production of unmanned aerial vehicles and other industries of intelligent equipment operate in the science park. The park has turned into an industrial park of intelligent unmanned vehicles.

“The science park has moved to version 3.0 of its development, moving from simply offering office space to providing services, and then to developing an innovation ecosystem,” said the head of the science park.

(Jin Bo, People’s Daily correspondent)