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China’s DJI builds R&D center to make inroads into Silicon Valley

DJI, drones manufacturer, Palo Alto, silicon valley

DJI, the leading manufacturer of consumer drones, is building a new research and development center in Palo Alto, Calif., that could hold 75 or more engineers, according to several job listings posted in recent weeks.

最近几周的招聘信息显示,中国领先的民用无人机制造商,深圳市大疆创新科技有限公司正在位于美国加州硅谷的帕洛阿尔托市建立一座新的研发中心,可容纳的工程师数量在75名以上。

The center, housed in a 12,000-sq.-ft. building located east of Stanford University on Portage Avenue, is already home to three engineers, including vice president of systems and applications engineering Darren Liccardo. Before joining DJI in August, Liccardo built and led the autopilot team for Tesla Motors, according to his LinkedIn page.

中心占地面积约1110平方米,坐落在当地斯坦福大学以东的波蒂奇大街上。目前已有三名工程师在这里工作,其中包括负责系统和应用工程的副总裁达伦·里卡多。里卡多的领英个人网页显示,他今年8月份加入大疆创新,此前是特斯拉汽车自动驾驶团队的组建者和负责人。

The center marks the Shenzhen, China-based company's first major effort to take advantage of American engineering talent. DJI currently has around 100 employees in the U.S., according to DJI spokesperson Michael Perry, but up until now they have mostly focused on customer support, marketing and business development. DJI's current engineering teams are based in China, where the company has deep ties to hardware manufacturers.

大疆创新的总部设在深圳,这个硅谷研发中心是其为利用美国的工程人才资源迈出的第一步。据公司发言人迈克尔·佩里介绍,大疆目前在美国有大约100名员工,但到目前为止,他们的主要工作一直是客户支持、营销和商业开发。大疆的工程团队目前设在中国,与其硬件厂商的联系很紧密。

"Silicon Valley attracts the best possible talent to one spot. That's really important to us," Perry says, though he declines to comment on the R&D center. "We've always had an international approach to hiring."

佩里拒绝对上述研发中心发表评论,但他说:"硅谷汇聚了最顶尖的人才。这对我们来说真的很重要。我们的招聘工作一直面向国际。"

The U.S. is the largest market for the nine-year-old company, which received $75 million in funding in May from Palo Alto-based Accel Partners to help it expand globally. Its white Phantom quad-copters have become a symbol for the industry, appearing everywhere from an episode of South Park to news reports describing downed drones on busy city streets (and even the lawn of the White House).

大疆有九年历史,美国是它最大的市场。今年5月份,设在帕洛阿尔托市的风投公司Accel Partners为大疆提供了7500万美元资金,以助其全球扩张。大疆生产的白色"幻影"四旋翼无人机已成为这个行业的标志,从动画片《南方公园》到无人机在繁华街市(甚至是白宫草坪上)着陆的新闻报道,"幻影"可谓无处不在。

Until late 2013, DJI had a core North American staff of marketers, pilots, and cinematography experts based in Austin, Texas.

2013年底前,大疆的北美核心团队一直设在德州奥斯汀市,其中有营销人员、无人机驾驶员和摄影专家。

DJI next opened a U.S. office in February 2014, when it unveiled a customer support and Hollywood-relations center in Los Angeles. A San Mateo office focused on customer support and photographers followed later that year.

2014年2月,大疆在美国设立了第二个办事处,启动了设在洛杉矶的负责客户支持以及跟好莱坞方面接洽的中心。2014年晚些时候,大疆在加州圣马特奥市的办事处开业,主要工作是客户支持和摄影师事务。

The new Palo Alto R&D center will help DJI tap into Silicon Valley's strength in computer vision and software, complementing Shenzhen's expertise in hardware development. Current job listings call for skills in areas such as video streaming and storage, embedded software, and computer simulation.

在帕洛阿尔托市新建的研发中心有助于大疆利用硅谷在计算机视觉和软件方面的资源,与深圳的硬件开发团队相辅相成。目前大疆正在招聘的人员需要具备视频流和存储、嵌入式软件和计算机模拟等方面的技能。

A presence in the San Francisco Bay Area also allows DJI to work closely with developers, who can help it build up an ecosystem of software applications and new use cases, Perry says.

佩里指出,进驻旧金山湾区后,大疆还可以跟开发者密切协作,后者可以帮助大疆建立应用软件生态系统,并为无人机找到新的使用案例。

Software is an increasingly competitive space in the drone industry, which is trending toward smart features like obstacle avoidance, autonomous flight and sophisticated cinematography controls. DJI competitors 3D Robotics and Parrot already have Bay Area offices. Commercial drone startups Airware, Skycatch, Matternet, and DroneDeploy also compete for talent in the area.

在无人机行业,软件方面的竞争日趋激烈,软件功能也越发智能化,比如躲避障碍、自主飞行和精密的摄影控制。大疆的竞争对手3D Robotics和Parrot都已在湾区设点。商业无人机初创企业Airware、Skycatch、Matternet和DroneDeploy也都在这个地区争夺人才。

Eric Cheng, who was the face of DJI in the U.S. until he resigned from his post as director of aerial imaging this month, says DJI's Chinese teams work under a sense of great urgency. Competition to be the best company—and the best employee—is fierce. It's a drive that he believes has given DJI an edge over its American competitors, though it sometimes leads it to release products before the technology or market is fully mature. He says it isn't unusual to see a DJI product go from research to production in six months.

大疆航拍摄影总监Eric Cheng10月份刚刚辞职,此前他一直是该公司在北美的形象代表。Eric说,大疆的中国团队在工作中有一种强烈的紧迫感。对最佳公司这个宝座以及最佳员工的争夺很激烈。尽管这种紧迫感有时造成大疆在技术或市场尚未完全成熟之际就推出了产品,但他相信,这股动力让大疆比美国竞争对手高出一筹。Eric介绍说,在大疆,一款产品从研究到生产用时不足六个月的情况并不少见。

"There's no delay between prototyping and manufacturing. There's also no delay in sourcing components," Cheng says. "If DJI can figure out a way to harness what Silicon Valley is good at and to integrate it into the rapid development pipeline that they're really good at in Shenzhen … it will be the next level for the company."

他指出:"制造原型机和生产之间没有任何延误。采购零部件的工作也没有耽搁。如果大疆能想办法利用硅谷的优势,将其和深圳方面特别擅长的快速开发管道整合到一起,这家公司就会更上一层楼。"

DJI is also pouring resources into developing a friendly legal climate in the United States, which is considering stricter rules for drone hobbyists and potentially years away from legalizing widespread commercial use. It hired Washington, D.C.-based policy lead Jon Resnick in January and vice president of policy and legal affairs Brendan Schulman, who is based in New York, in July.

大疆投入资源的另一项工作是在美国创造友好的法律环境。美国政府正在考虑对无人机爱好者加强管理,无人机的普遍商用可能还要好几年才能合法化。今年1月份,大疆聘请了乔恩·雷斯尼克,他常驻华盛顿并负责美国政策事务;7月份,驻纽约的政策和法律事务副总裁布伦丹·舒尔曼走马上任。

It appears to be working: As of August, 71% of the commercial drone use cases exempted from the ban by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration involved DJI drones. And Schulman now sits on the FAA's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Registration Task Force.

这些措施看来起了作用。截至今年8月份,在美国联邦航空管理局解禁的无人机使用案例中,71%的案例都和大疆的无人机有关。舒尔曼现在是美国联邦航空管理局无人飞机系统注册工作组的成员。

"DJI is probably the first real example of a Chinese company that is seen mostly as a global company by consumers," Cheng said.

Cheng说:"大疆可能是第一个真正被消费者视为全球性公司的中国企业。"

2016-06-23

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