Intel Invests $60 Million in Chinese Drone Maker Yuneec

Intel Corp. has poured more than $60 million into Yuneec International Co., a Shanghai-based drone and aerospace company, as a broad range of technology companies investigate the possible commercial uses of unmanned aircraft.

Venture capitalists and companies are investing in drone technology on the expectation that unmanned aerial vehicles will prove beneficial for consumers and industrial customers. Amazon.com Inc. and Google Inc. are developing drones to deliver products to consumers. Yuneec’s Chinese rival SZ DJI Technology Co. raised $75 million from Accel Partners in May.

“At Intel we believe in a smart and connected world. And one of the best ways to bring that smart and connected world to everyone and everywhere has been drones,” Intel Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich said in a video announcing the investment by Intel Capital. “We’ve got drones on our road map that are going to truly change the world and revolutionize the drone industry.”

Intel and Yuneec will work on developing future products, the companies said Wednesday. Yuneec makes drones for consumers and industrial users, as well as manned electric aircraft. Intel declined to provide further details on the collaboration. The Santa Clara, California-based semiconductor company has also invested in drone companies Airware and PrecisionHawk.

The Yuneec relationship fits with Intel’s strategy to make investments in companies developing products with the potential to expand the market for semiconductors, as the company searches for new devices for chips. Intel’s drone funding is similar to its investments in next-generation data center software companies such as Mirantis Inc. and Cloudera Inc.

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