August 28, 2015      

We all remember when Intel was a powerhouse in the age of personal computing, but then largely missed out on that non-trivial segment called mobile. Hell-bent not to repeat a missed mega-opportunity ever again, Intel just unloaded $60 million into a Chinese drone maker.

The recipient, founded in 1999 in Hong Kong, goes by the name of Yuneec International Co. Ltd. That name Yuneec looks a lot like Anglo-Chinese phonetics for “unique”.

Yuneec calls itself a “world leader in electric aviation” and sports a cool company slogan: Changing the Way We Fly. By the looks of things at Yuneec, it has made an impressive mark for itself in drone aviation: 1800 employees located in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Los Angeles and Hamburg, selling over $1 million units a year, sold under OEM/ODM brands as well as the Typhoon brand of multi-copters.

The Company’s achievements include the introduction of the hobby industry’s first “Ready to Fly” radio control electric powered airplane and the design and manufacture of the market leading radio controlled helicopters and micro-copters.

yuneec drones

The company even has a two-seat electric powered airplane, the E430, featuring a 48KW electric propulsion system and a carbon-fiber composite airframe.

“In 2014, Yuneec introduced the world’s first ready-to-fly, out-of-the-box drone. The Typhoon Q500 quadcopter; and then in 2015 improved on the Typhoon by adding a 4k camera version, introducing a Steady Grip that turns the Typhoon into an “Air and Ground Imaging Solution”.

The Silicon Valley Business Journal reports today that Santa Clara chip giant (NASDAQ:INTC) invested in Yuneec, a Shanghai (and Hong Kong) company founded by Tian Yu that claims its drones are so easy to use they can be flown almost right out of the box by inexperienced pilots.

“We’ve got drones on our road map that are going to truly change the world and revolutionize the drone industry,” CEO Brian Krzanich said in a video about the investment.

This could get interesting

Yuneec isn’t the only drone company that Intel is taking a flyer on. It earlier backed San Francisco-based Airware–the commercial drone software startup led by Jonathan Downey that has raised more than $40 million–and North Carolina-based PrecisionHawk.

“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,” said Krzanich.

Intel’s investment comes a couple of days after rival Ehang, another Chinese company with operations in the Bay Area, raised $42 million in Series B funding.