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When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in 2020, the world witnessed just how many global economies are dependent on Chinese companies.
Due to the bad press that Chinese manufacturers have been getting in the past few years, such as low wages, risky working conditions, and long shipping times, users have started buying tech equipment from companies that aren’t based in China.
This also applies to drone technology.
If you know anything about drones, then you are probably aware of the dominance that DJI drones have on the market.
DJI accounts for around 74% of civilian-market share when it comes to drones, and no other company is anywhere near even 10%.
Of course, this success didn’t come randomly, and there is no doubt that DJI creates some of the best and most high-quality drone models in the industry.
Other Chinese drone manufacturers such as Yuneec and Xiaomi also fare pretty well, and they offer models at a much lower price.
But what are some quality drones that weren’t made in China?
In this guide, we are going to review some of the best drones not made in China and help you choose the best model for your needs.
Best Drone Not Made in China [6 Awesome Options]
While some of the best consumer drones we have today are made in China, that doesn’t mean that other companies don’t offer some cutting-edge models as well.
In fact, you can find high-quality drones in American and European countries at a much lower price without sacrificing any great features.
Let’s review some of the top contenders.
Parrot – France/USA
Established in 1999, Parrot is a French manufacturer that is considered to be one of the leading drone companies in Europe.
When it was first launched, the company focused on producing Bluetooth and voice recognition hardware, but it slowly shifted to drone manufacturing in the following years.
In 2010, the developers proudly presented their first drone at a Las Vegas CES convention – the Parrot AR Drone. Next, they came up with mini drones such as the ‘Rolling Spider’ and ‘Jumping Sumo’, followed by the ‘Bebop 2’ drone.
Nowadays, Parrot is mostly known for its Anafi series drones that come with some high-tech features very similar to DJI models.
Aside from having a variety of intelligence flight systems and great features, Parrot Anafi models also come at a very decent price.
Additionally, Parrot does a great job at creating military drones, and they even have a contract with both the United States Department of Defence and the French Army.
Parrot drone models are highly popular among drone enthusiasts, and they can be used for law enforcement, building inspections, and search missions.
Some of the most popular Parrot drones include the Parrot Anafi, Parrot Disco FPV, and the Parrot AR Drone 2.
Autel – USA
Autel Robotics was launched in 2014, and it stands as one of DJI’s biggest competitors in the drone industry.
The main idea behind Autel was to create sophisticated aerial technology for commercial and recreational purposes.
One of Autel’s first models came in 2015, the X-Star. This drone was a huge success among pilots, and it ultimately led to the development of the Autel EVO drone series.
An entry-level EVO drone costs around $1500, while The Autel EVO 2 is considered to be one of the finest drones currently on the market in terms of specs and features.
Although Autel doesn’t have nearly as many models to offer as DJI, the ones that are available do a great job of stealing a percentage of DJI’s market share.
Due to their great price/quality ratio and robust features, Autel is one of the most popular US drone manufacturers in the world.
Their most high-quality models are undoubtedly the Autel EVO Nano Plus and Autel EVO 2.
Skydio – USA
Skydio is an American-based drone company that was founded in 2014 by some of the world’s leading experts in AI, robotics, and electric vehicles.
While the company isn’t as ‘old’ as some of the other notable drone manufacturers, it has managed to achieve great success in a relatively short time span. In 2021, Skydio became a ‘unicorn’ company, and it is the first US drone manufacturer to reach a $1 billion valuation.
The software included in the drones is developed within the organization, while the processes all originate from other American companies.
Because of this, the supply chain security level of Skydio is extremely high, and even government customers have endorsed this fact.
The founders of Skydio first met in 2009 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where they worked together on a project to develop self-governing drone technology.
Their first drone came out in 2018 – The R1. This model was an instant success, and many platforms declared it the first great autonomous drone for consumers.
Nowadays, their most notable drone is the Skydio 2, which many pilots compare to the DJI Mavic 2 Pro (one of DJI’s most popular models).
In fact, Skydio 2 is considered to be even better when it comes to computing power and obstacle avoidance features, not to mention that it comes at an extremely low price.
Other popular Skydio models are the Skydio X2, Skydio Cloud, and Skydio Dock.
Freefly – USA
While Freefly isn’t as popular as the other US drone manufacturers, it deserves a place on this list due to its cutting-edge gimbals and models designed specifically for cinematography purposes.
The company was launched in 2011, and it specializes in advanced camera movement systems used for filmmaking. After some time, the developers started implementing this technology into their drones.
The first glimpses of fame for Freefly came when they launched a camera stabilizer that was smaller and more durable than anything previously seen in the video production industry.
There are currently only four drone models released by Freefly – Freefly Alta 6, Freefly Alta 8, Freefly Alta X, and Freefly Astro.
Draganfly – Canada
The leader of the Canadian market, Draganfly, has more than two decades of experience when it comes to drone technology.
Draganfly was launched in 1998, and the developers were focused on providing customers with enterprise drone solutions from the very beginning.
They have made quite a few ground-breaking models over the years – the first commercialized Quadrotor drone in 1999, the first Multirotor drone that included an integrated camera in 2001, and the first unmanned aircraft system for rescue missions in 2013.
There are plenty of different Draganfly drones that are considered to be great DJI alternatives, but some of their most popular models include the Draganflyer Commander, Draganflyer X4-P, and the Draganflyer M600 Pro.
3D Robotics – USA
With headquarters in California, 3D Robotics is an American drone manufacturer founded by Chris Anderson in 2009.
It is one of the leading drone manufacturers for construction, government institutions, mining, and many more end-user industries.
The main focus of 3D Robotics is to provide users with sophisticated autonomous drones that include GPS point planning (aka Smart Drone Technology).
There are numerous products for exploration and aerial photography purposes, and the company refers to its software as the ‘smartest and most technologically advanced in the drone industry.
3D Robotics actually created the first ‘Follow Me’ feature that allows drones to fly anywhere steadily while also keeping the camera stable for capturing beautiful shots.
Some of 3D Robotics’ most notable models include the 3D Robotics IRIS+, 3D Robotics X8, and the 3D Robotics Solo drone.
Why You May Not Want a Drone Made in China
The wariness towards Chinese companies and equipment continues to gradually grow among US citizens, with almost half of them stating that they wouldn’t purchase Chinese products.
But is this all politics, or are there good reasons not to want a drone made in China?
Here are some of the main reasons why you might be better off purchasing a drone elsewhere.
⚡️ Security Problems
One of the main issues with Chinese drones is security.
Ever since 2020, when a group of cyber security researchers revealed that DJI might be spying on its users through drones, the American government has been battling the problems associated with this type of information leaking.
While it’s still possible to purchase DJI and other Chinese drones in the US, this might not be the case for much longer.
Because Chinese tech companies are obliged by law to provide their government with obtained information stored on the network, there is a serious concern that Beijing authorities might be exploiting this to find potential weaknesses in different countries.
This means that your pictures, location, or any other data stored in the app are at risk of being forwarded to Chinese government officials.
⚡️ Human Rights Issues
Western citizens often forget that the low price of electronic devices is linked to the people working in manufacturing.
There is no doubt that China is the world’s largest economy, but many don’t appreciate the fact that it got there by exploiting its workers.
One of the main problems is that there is only one labor union in China that is endorsed by the government, and all the others fall under its control.
Local governments are the ones who are supposed to secure minimum wages and social security for the workers, but they often ignore the violations. Those who try protesting these measures in public are punished with lengthy prison sentences.
There are plenty of drone manufacturers based in the United States. We reviewed some of the most notable ones in our list, including Autel, Skydio, 3D Robotics, and Freefly.
The most popular US drone company is Skydio, and it recently reached more than $1 billion in valuation.
Its most popular drones are the Skydio R1 and the Skydio 2, and they are considered to be great alternatives to DJI models, coming at a lower price without sacrificing any robust features.
The most famous American drone companies are Autel, Skydio, 3D Robotics, and Freefly.
Some other companies that aren’t that popular but are still considered solid are Action Drone, Advanced Aircraft Company, AgrowDrone, and Airgility.
Yes, DJI is a Chinese company based in Nanshan.
DJI is the leading drone manufacturer in the world with more than 74% of the civilian-market share for drone technology.
There are plenty of great alternatives to DJI drones.
Some of the most notable examples are the Skydio 2, Autel EVO 2, and the Parrot Anafi. All of these models come at a much lower price and can offer the same range of advanced features.
All Skydio drones are designed and created in the US.
The company’s headquarters is located in Redwood City, California and they offer some of the best drone models in America.
The answer to this question might be a bit controversial since there is no official information on whether any Chinese government officials are stakeholders of DJI.
DJI founders have explained that the company is privately held and that they don’t receive any direct investments from the government.
However, because the Chinese law obligates all technology companies to deliver user information to the government, there is a risk of your pictures, location, and data ending up in the hands of government officials.
We can’t say that the Skydio 2 beats all DJI drones – however, it does compete very well with most of them when it comes to obstacle avoidance features and computing power.
The Skydio 2 has perhaps the best-designed ‘Follow Me’ feature in the drone industry, and there aren’t any drones that come near it in this regard.
Also, apart from leading in the advanced features race, Skydio 2 is much more budget-friendly compared to DJI models.