Chinese drone researchers raise millions to be the Xiaomi of drones
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Photo Credit: Tech in Asia

About the size of piece of A4 paper and more affordable than anything else on the market, Aheadx’s latest drone could see the China based startup soar to even greater heights.

Tech in Asia

China may have just curtailed the export of military drones, but its consumer drone market is doing just fine. The latest sign of that: Aheadx, a Beijing-based consumer drone startup founded late last year, has just raised a seed round in the tens of millions of RMB (likely at least $2 million). The round comes courtesy of Shenzhen and Beijing-based VC firm AV Capital.

Aheadx produces a variety of consumer drones for hobbyists and photographers. The latest of these is what it calls the TransDrone A4, so named for its ability to fold up into something the size of an A4 piece of paper, although much thicker. The company is currently taking preorders for its drone via JD.com’s crowdfunding platform, where the device has already blown way past its initial RMB 100,000 goal.

Part of what makes Aheadx an attractive investment for AV Capital is the startup’s tech team. Its R&D guys reportedly are all graduates of Beihang University, widely considered to be China’s finest research institution for aviation and aeronautics technology. They bring with them a collective ten years of drone research.

That knowledge will be of huge importance as Aheadx walks into a market where another Chinese drone maker, DJI, already holds a strong position. DJI, which raised a $75 million round just a few months ago and is now valued at $10 billion, is hugely popular with hobbyist and prosumer drone filmers, and its Phantom series is considered by many to be the best consumer camera drone out there.

At present, Aheadx’s advantage appears to be price. At least during its crowdfunding campaign, which will come to a close next month, the TransDrone A4 is available for just RMB 2699 ($434), or RMB 2999 ($482) with a camera included. That makes it far cheaper than any of DJI’s similar products, like the popular Phantom line, which starts at $999. The A4 may not sport all the bells and whistles of a Phantom 3, of course, but the lower price could still make it of interest to hobbyists who want to get into drone filming without having to sell a kidney.

It’s a tough road ahead, to be sure, but it certainly seems possible that if DJI wants to become the Apple of consumer drones, Aheadx could aim to be the Xiaomi.

You can check out Aheadx’s TransDrone A4 in flight via the company’s latest promo video:

This post was originally published on Tech in Asia.

Featured Image Credit: Tech in Asia

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Charlie Custer

About Charlie Custer


I’m a guy who writes stuff, mostly about technology and video games in China. I also made a documentary film about child trafficking. You can follow me on Twitter as @ChinaGeeks.

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