Both EHANG and Yuneec are up against DJI, yet another Chinese drone startup, which raised $75 million from Accel Partners in May to build a software ecosystem for developers and runs its own fund, called SkyFund, for investments in businesses related to unmanned aerial vehicles.
In a video to mark the Intel funding (embedded below), Yuneec founder Tian Yu says his company’s drones, which include versions for consumer and enterprise users, differentiate by being easy to use, with a built-in screen for a controller, so even newbies can fly them just five minutes after unboxing.
Intel and Yuneec plan to collaborate on projects, but have not revealed what they are going to develop. This is the third drone startup Intel has invested in so far. The other two are Airware, which makes commercial drone software (and also has its own UAV fund) and PrecisionHawk, a sensor hardware maker and data analysis platform.
The drone market is expected to grow quickly and venture capital firms are pouring funding into startups. According to CB Insights, drone companies had raised $172 million by May 2015, more than the previous three years combined.
This means that the consumer drone market is becoming crowded and companies like Yuneec, EHANG, DJI, and U.S. rival 3D Robotics will have to focus on honing UAVs and software for business users. By investing in startups that cover drone hardware, software, and data analysis, Intel looks set to start building an ecosystem that can not only use its semiconductors, but also diversify revenue beyond chips as it recovers from several quarters of slow revenue growth.