The Federal Aviation Administration expects a million consumer drones to be sold this holiday season. No doubt, many of those will come from DJI, makers of the Phantom, the world's most popular drone. But where do those drones actually come from? Thanks to some found footage acquired by Motherboard, here's a brief look inside one of DJI's Chinese factories.
Before every DJI drone is shipped to consumers, it's tested. Because DJI makes its own cameras, those are given a quick test too, as you can see from this video, which was licensed by Motherboard from Skyz Media, a Michigan-based aerial photography company.
Erik Reed, the founder of the company, told me that his DJI X5 camera came preloaded with the footage, which was supposed to be deleted before the drone was shipped. Found factory footage is posted online from time to time: Here's a video that purports to show a Parrot Bebop drone being tested, and footage found on an HP laptop from a few years ago made waves for showing the inner workings of a Foxconn factory.
In this video, you can see what appears to be a DJI factory line, who are assembling DJI's Inspire 1 drones. Every time footage like this makes its way online, it's utterly fascinating in its mundanity. We're catching just a few seconds of a camera test, but then you think about how every smartphone, every laptop, every game console, every drone, every camera is tested for a few seconds by the people who assemble them. Seeing even a moment of that monotony at least reminds us that someone is making our electronics, somewhere.
A spokesperson for DJI said the video does indeed show the inside of one of DJI's manufacturing facilities, but he couldn't tell us much more.
"We're looking into where this video was taken but we can confirm that we have multiple camera testing facilities as do most camera manufacturers," the spokesperson said.