Drone maker DJI to open its first arena

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Drone maker DJI to open its first arena


Left: A drone on display at DJI’s first-ever arena dedicated to unmanned aerial vehicles in Yongin, Gyeonggi. Above: Professional drone pilots demonstrate the gadgets at the soon-to-open arena on Tuesday. [DJI KOREA]

DJI, the world’s largest drone manufacturer, has established its first-ever drone arena in Korea to provide local tech-savvy consumers with a space to try out unmanned aerial vehicle technology.

The move comes half a year after the Shenzhen-based drone maker opened its first flagship store outside China in Seoul’s university neighborhood of Hongdae in March.

“We picked Korea instead of China to open our first-ever drone-dedicated arena because of the extensive demographics in Korea that show high enthusiasm for our products since the opening of our flagship store,” Moon Tae-hyun, manager of DJI’s Korean unit, said at a press event on Tuesday.

“Considering the fact that the esports genre was particularly successful in Korea, we thought it was appropriate to build our first drone arena here, where there are many tech-savvy consumers.”

While sales numbers showed minor difference between shops in Korea and China, Moon said Korean consumers demonstrated extremely high interest and quick understanding of the company’s handheld camera tool Osmo. As a result, DJI saw more potential in the Korean market to test out the concept of drone arenas.

The 1,395-square-meter (15,000-square-foot) indoor arena is located in Yongin, Gyeonggi, a 30-minute drive from Gangnam District in southern Seoul and a 10-minute walk from Guseong Station on the Bundang Line.

With a 10- to 12-meter-high ceiling, the warehouse-like space includes a safety net with adjustable circuits that act as obstacles for drone pilots who want to improve their flight skills. The LED-lit circuits will be adjusted twice a month by drone experts at DJI so that pilots can routinely visit the venue and enjoy diverse courses.

One corner of the arena includes a maintenance room for charging and quick repair as well as a space for visitors to relax and mingle. Spectators can view the action inside the arena through four liquid crystal display monitors set up behind each drone pilot.

In addition to acting as a practice range for avid drone fliers, the arena will also provide a series of workshops for the general public. DJI is offering a month-long academy for elementary and middle school students to learn how to use its flagship Phantom 4 drone.

One-on-one classes by professionally-trained DJI pilots will also be available. Those who don’t have their own drones can rent one at the venue. Moon said the programs are meant to “establish a healthy ecosystem for any drone pilots from diverse backgrounds.”

The arena officially opens on Thursday and can accommodate up to 12 people in each three-hour session. However, only two to four drones can go up in the air at one time because of frequency-jam issues.

One three-hour session costs 15,000 won ($14) per person, and all sessions including academy classes require advance booking. Group booking and rentals are available as well.

The arena is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends. More information on the space and booking can be found on http://blog.naver.com/djiarenakorea.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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