China's DJI wants to sell drones in Japan after laws loosen

March 3, 2016 by Yuri Kageyama
China's DJI wants to sell drones in Japan after laws loosen
Employees of DJI, a major Chinese consumer-drone maker, demonstrate their latest model Phantom 4 in Tokyo, Thursday, March 3, 2016. DJI has its eyes on the potentially lucrative Japanese market after regulations on drones were relaxed here three months ago. T,he drone which has propellers, cameras, sensors and automatic tracking technology, zipped around and followed a stunt bicycle-rider, successfully dodging a signboard. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Major Chinese consumer-drone maker DJI has its eyes on the potentially lucrative Japanese market after regulations on drones were relaxed here three months ago.

DJI Japan General Manager Allen Wu launched the latest model, Phantom 4, Thursday in a fashionable mall in Tokyo.

In a demonstration, the machine, which has propellers, cameras, sensors and automatic tracking technology, zipped around and followed a stunt bicycle-rider, successfully dodging a signboard.

Shenzen-based DJI says it controls 70 percent of the world consumer-drone market. The niche market has great potential to grow, especially in Japan, a nation of avid photographers and videographers, some of whom are already using .

Japan's first law on drones went into effect in December, with restrictions such as limiting them to daytime use, prohibiting explosives and not allowing flights over big crowds. Government permission is needed to use them near airports and other special areas.

DJI, founded 10 years ago, has become a dominant player in a product that delivers excitingly visceral video taken from eye levels far lower than the usual aerial shots by a helicopter.

Wu said some 70 million shots had been taken on a DJI drone in the past year. Footage shown at the event exploited the proximity of the camera lens while delivering high-definition-quality imagery and impressively smooth panning.

China's DJI wants to sell drones in Japan after laws loosen
A Phantom 4, developed by major Chinese consumer-drone maker DJI, flies during its demonstration flight in Tokyo, Thursday, March 3, 2016. DJI has its eyes on the potentially lucrative Japanese market after regulations on drones were relaxed here three months ago. ,he drone which has propellers, cameras, sensors and automatic tracking technology, zipped around and followed a stunt bicycle-rider, successfully dodging a signboard. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

The Phantom 4, which has a flight range of 5 kilometers (3 miles), sells for 189,000 yen ($1,600) in Japan, and $1,399 in the U.S. Its maximum speed is 72 kph (45 mph).

It comes with a "return to home," or RTH, function, meaning it will come back safely, evading obstacles while it still has battery life.

DJI is the first Chinese company to be the industry leader in an emerging technology. It could take Japan by storm because of the lack of major local competition.

Yamaha Motor Co., for instance, makes drones, but they are for businesses. Last year, Sony Corp. invested a majority stake in Japanese drone company Aerosense, but its drones also are not for consumers.

China's DJI wants to sell drones in Japan after laws loosen
DJI Japan General Manager Allen Wu shows the major Chinese consumer-drone maker's Phantom 4 during the launch of the latest model in Tokyo, Thursday, March 3, 2016. DJI has its eyes on the potentially lucrative Japanese market after regulations on drones were relaxed here three months ago. The drone which has propellers, cameras, sensors and automatic tracking technology, zipped around and followed a stunt bicycle-rider, successfully dodging a signboard. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

China's DJI wants to sell drones in Japan after laws loosen
A Phantom 4, developed by major Chinese consumer-drone maker DJI, flies during its demonstration flight in Tokyo, Thursday, March 3, 2016. DJI has its eyes on the potentially lucrative Japanese market after regulations on drones were relaxed here three months ago. The drone which has propellers, cameras, sensors and automatic tracking technology, zipped around and followed a stunt bicycle-rider, successfully dodging a signboard. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

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