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Friday, June 21, 2024

Are These Drones Too Chinese to Pass U.S. Muster in an Anti-China Moment?

WorldAre These Drones Too Chinese to Pass U.S. Muster in an Anti-China Moment?

A one-man startup believes it has an answer to U.S. government concerns over the Chinese-made drones that dominate commercial sales in the American market.

Anzu Robotics’s chief executive and founding partners are all American, and the company’s headquarters is in Texas. The company’s drones, which are expected to be used by law enforcement agencies, utilities, architects and others, are assembled in Malaysia, and they run on servers sitting in Virginia.

There’s just one problem: Anzu has multiple close ties to China and to DJI, the Shenzhen-based firm being targeted by legislative and regulatory efforts to curb sales of Chinese drones in the United States.

Roughly half of Anzu’s parts come from China. Much of its software originated there. Anzu licensed the design for its drones from DJI, which receives a payment for every drone that Anzu orders from its manufacturer in Malaysia.

That crossover is raising questions about whether Anzu is truly independent of DJI, China’s leading drone maker, or simply a rebranded version of it.

Despite accounting for 58 percent of commercial drones sold in the United States, according to a 2022 analyst report, DJI’s business has been shadowed of late by federal and state regulations intended to guard against potential Chinese access to information gathered by drones in America.

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