Hope and concerns for civilian drone industry

Updated: 2013-05-24 10:24


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Since "Oblivion," the latest Hollywood sci-fi adventure featuring drones and clones hit Chinese screens in May, there has been a buzz about unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the country.

Rather than fantasize about the roles drones could play in the future, some are going one step further.

A research and development base of drones is scheduled to be built in Taiyuan, capital city of north China's Shanxi province, as announced earlier this month.

The drone base is part of a project named united airlines sci-tech industrial park co-undertaken by Taiyuan Private Economy Development Zone and Shanxi Coal Asset Management Co Ltd.

With a total investment of 2 billion yuan ($322.6 million), it is another large civilian drone base that will be built.

The once military dedicated unmanned aircraft industry now attracts large quantities of civilian investment in China.

Drones, or UAVs, date back to the period of World War I. Civilian drones have become increasingly popular as they can fulfill tasks that are either difficult or dangerous for human beings, such as forest fire supervision, flood monitoring, nuclear radiation detecting, and atmosphere sampling. 

The UAVs sometimes even save human life. Only five hours after the 7.0-magnitude Lushan earthquake on April 20, drones on mission sent back maps of the quake-hit areas with the remote-sensing function, which assisted relief workers.

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