Aug 12, 2019
By Sophie | "World Manager"
As the concept of underwater robots is more and more widely recognized, Li Zhiqin believes that 2019 will usher in an explosion.
"Aerial drones will be handed over to DJI, and we will enter the field of underwater drones." Li Zhiqin, founder of Youcan Robot (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "Youcan"), told "World Manager" "Say.
Li Zhiqin: What we need to do now is to settle down to solve these problems and meet customer needs.
Youcan Robot is a global leading comprehensive company of underwater robot products and underwater video image content exchange social platform. After three years of rapid development since its establishment, Youcan Robot has established R&D sales centers and supply chain production bases in Shanghai and Zhejiang, China respectively. In 2017, Youcan Robot established a New York market partner; in 2018, the Youcan underwater robot Japan branch was officially established in Tokyo; in June of the same year, the Youcan intelligent manufacturing base and global logistics distribution center project was established.
In the field of drones, compared to the fierce competition in the "air" market, the competition for underwater drones has just begun. The urgently developed market and broad future prospects have attracted a group of players and capital to enter the game. In order to seize the opportunity, Youcan not only ploughs deeply in technology research and development, but also actively improves its own manufacturing capabilities. While expanding application scenarios, it continues to expand its global business territory.
Nuggets "Blue Ocean"
Li Zhiqin's entry into the field of underwater drones stems from real feedback from the market. In the early days, he was still struggling to find the direction of entrepreneurship, swaying between smart cars and underwater robots. In June 2016, after bringing two products to the exhibition to test the water, the user's reaction led him to find the answer. The enthusiasm and attention of the people at the exhibition for underwater drones made him firm in his determination to start a business. In August of the same year, Youcan Robotics (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. was officially registered and established, and began to expand the field of consumer-grade underwater drones. In the past three years, Li Zhiqin felt the gradual warming of the market. As the concept of "underwater drone" is more and more widely recognized, Li Zhiqin believes that 2019 will usher in an explosion.
There is no doubt about the market potential of underwater drones. According to industry insiders, the entire underwater drone market is about 100 billion, of which military and enterprise level accounts for about 80 billion, and consumer level is about 20 billion. This market has not yet been fully developed, about 100 million. In the future 5 years will grow at a rate of 2-3 times per year. With the improvement of consumption level, people's demand for exploration in the underwater field grows, and consumer-grade underwater drones will further release market potential. However, the current target audience in this field is mainly concentrated in the middle and high-end niche groups, mostly diving enthusiasts, sea fishing enthusiasts and private yacht buyers, etc. It will take a certain amount of time to popularize the public, and more manufacturers are still Actively expand the application scenarios of product landing.
"From the perspective of the audience, underwater drones have not yet reached the level of aerial drones, but the scope will definitely increase in the future. At present, this field is still a niche market, but for startups, The potential of the global market is still very large." Li Zhiqin said.
To nugget this blue ocean, more imagination is needed, and the expansion of application scenarios will be the key to the commercialization of consumer-grade underwater drones. "Our positioning is consumer-grade underwater drones for the C-end, which is a good entry point for us. The expansion of the audience lies in the function of the product. For service robots, if it satisfies the If it is just needed, people can't do without it, such as the cleaning of professional underwater venues. This may become our focus."
Li Zhiqin said that Youcan may explore more diverse application scenarios in the future, extending from the sea to the swimming pool, and from diving enthusiasts to ordinary swimming enthusiasts. At present, the profit model of Youcan underwater drone is mainly based on the sale of hardware, and then it will try to charge fees for functional services on the software, such as adding a live broadcast function to the APP, to meet the different needs of users .
Solve Pain Points
As a technology-driven technology company, Youcan has its own core technologies in terms of hardware, software and algorithms, especially in image processing technology. The Youcan team has accumulated more than ten years of experience.
By launching crowdfunding activities on world-renowned websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Youcan not only received extensive support from the market, but also obtained a large number of potential users' data information. Through detailed market research on these users, Youcan has a deeper understanding of their needs and pain points, which has become the focus of its future product development.
"We collected about 20,000 to 30,000 pieces of information on crowdfunding websites, including the age level, hobbies, financial ability and scope of work of the guests, as well as product pricing, lens clarity, and frequency of use preferences. Etc. The current situation is that a large amount of market demand has not been fully met, and what we need to do now is to settle down to solve these problems and meet customer needs." Li Zhiqin said.
As a consumer-grade underwater drone, image transmission has always been one of the important needs of consumers for entertainment. However, due to the complex underwater environment, the underwater robot will be interfered by various factors in the process of acquiring images, and the loss of image information will inevitably occur.
In order to improve the quality of the transmitted image and improve the visual effect, the Youcan team used its technical advantages in image processing to calculate and compensate the underwater color, brightness and contrast in the algorithm, so as to restore the natural picture that is close to the real. At the same time, for real-time high-frequency transmission without delay, Youcan not only optimized the algorithm, but also replaced more advanced chips and redesigned the hardware circuit.
After a series of meticulous adjustments, the image transmission of the Youcan underwater robot finally achieved a smooth and high-definition visual effect, which was deeply loved by consumers once it was launched. It is understood that the shooting performance of Youcan’s latest underwater robot, BW Space Pro, is commendable, and the 4K high-definition camera can capture more delicate pictures.
In fact, in addition to the excellent image transmission performance, Youcan underwater robot's unique tracking portrait function, as well as its excellent performance in sealing technology and stability, have made it widely recognized by the market. In 2017, Youcan’s BW Space intelligent tracking underwater robot also won the Capek Technology Innovation Award, known as the “Nobel Prize” in the robotics industry. Up to now, Youcan has more than 20 patents at home and abroad, and its products are also exported to more than 50 countries such as the United States and Australia.
Gone Through Testing
From the current development point of view, the immaturity of the supply chain of the underwater drone industry has led to high product costs and high prices. Therefore, achieving mass production has become one of the biggest tests for underwater drones to move from the laboratory to the production line.
Based on the team's accumulated work experience in the electronics industry for more than 20 years, the Youcan team, backed by abundant resources, completed the construction of the supply chain in the early stage of the business. In the face of such an emerging field as underwater drones, the Youcan team worked with high-quality partners to explore the optimal path. In the process of product manufacturing, they continued to improve and grow together. In the end, the Youcan underwater drones realized the The goal of mass production. In terms of manufacturing, emerging products such as consumer-grade underwater drones are undoubtedly a "tough bone". Li Zhiqin said that in the process of moving towards the production line, every step is a "pit". Since there is no model to follow, Youcan can only explore on his own. To this end, Li Zhiqin had to go into battle and do it himself. "I just went to Shenzhen and Guangzhou on a business trip. Because there were some problems in the processing of our underwater drone components, I stayed at the site for more than a week to solve these problems with the customer. " Li Zhiqin sighed , "This is the norm. From the start of our business, we are always solving problems and putting our best effort into it, because there is no ready-made thing to refer to, and we all rely on ourselves. The difficulties can be imagined."
It is understood that in terms of appearance alone, Youcan has proofed more than a dozen models. "For example, when we look back at the prototype of the first product now, we will think, how did we make such a product in the first place? Not only is it big, high resistance, but also slow. So later, we slowly made a streamlined product , and the volume is getting smaller and smaller, and the underwater drones with better and better speed and control will come out." Li Zhiqin said. After two years of research and development and a total investment of tens of millions of yuan, the first product, BW Space, was carefully polished by the Youcan team, and finally withstood the test of the market, achieved mass production, and was widely praised by users. . It is understood that all key components, modules, sensors, etc. of this product are independently designed by the Youcan team.
Youcan, who has the strength of mass production, has not stopped, and the subject of improving the yield rate has also been improved in the follow-up development. With the strategic support of many well-known institutions, the quality and quality of Youcan underwater drones have been greatly guaranteed. Li Zhiqin believes that with the support of a good upstream and downstream supply chain, the price range of underwater drones is expected to be further reduced in the future.
"To be successful in making an underwater drone, the most important thing to examine is the comprehensive strength of a company. The company needs to keep up with the market, which means that your supply chain, technology, market capabilities and other aspects must be mature. When the market needs you, you can provide the products you need in time. You can't be too early, because too much investment may become a martyr; you can't be too late, and you may become a laggard if you can't keep up. When the market needs, you just start the momentum and become the leader Ministry, then you have succeeded." Li Zhiqin said.
Youcan, who has gone through multiple tests, is constantly advancing in exploration, and the future can be expected.
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