The aerial technology innovations of Zexiang Li and Frank Wang are fueling one of the most significant robotics developments of the past decade—the rise of the drone and its growing impact on society. Wang and Li were the first to dispel the stereotype that useful aerial robots were expensive and unwieldy, repositioning drones from luxurious toys to practical tools. They cofounded Da-Jiang Innovations (DJI), the world’s largest manufacturer and leader in consumer drones and aerial imaging technology. Their flight control systems have provided robotics researchers with platforms for research in visual navigation, collective robotics, simultaneous localization and mapping, and object detection and tracking. Among DJI’s many innovations are drones designed specifically for agricultural applications, autopilot drones for search and rescue, and camera stabilization technology that achieves movie-grade aerial footage for the motion-picture and film industry.
An IEEE Fellow, Li is a professor with the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clearwater Bay, Hong Kong, China.