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Global chip shortage could impact drones

The world has come to rely on integrated circuits, the microprocessors doing the grunt work in much of our daily home life. There’s currently a shortage – and that’s already impacting some aspects of the drone world.

There’s a silent army at work in our lives every single day. Integrated circuits toil away reliably in the background on our laptops, phones, cars, routers, smart speakers. You name it, and the odds are it has chips in it. They are truly ubiquitous in this technology-driven age. But now, as a result of the global pandemic and supply-chain issues, there’s a problem.

A shortage.


This threw a big wrench in global supply chains. This was partly due to temporary closures and longer-term slowdowns at chip factories, and also because some of those companies that rely on chips for their own products reduced their standing orders. Against this backdrop, consumer demand for certain kinds of electronics surged.

Suddenly, countless kids needed access to laptops or tablets to attend online school. Gaming systems and other devices associated with leisure time saw a spike in demand in some areas, despite the fact that unemployment rates rose to disastrous levels and income dropped dramatically for many people.


As countries continue to grapple with the pandemic – some are making great progress and others more less so – the chip demand is again changing. And the companies that supply are trying to keep up. But the fact there’s a shortage has prompted an important conversation in the United States, which manufactures a relatively small amount of the world’s chips. President Joe Biden has ordered an in-depth look at the issue with a long-term goal to help build US capability in this regard.

We raise all this because we’re already hearing reports of chip shortages – including camera sensors – that are impacting some suppliers in the drone world. Yes, you can still pick up your favourite DJI product. But we’ve noted some other suppliers are seeing shortages of stock with some products already sold out. For example, try to get your hands on a Caddx Vista, the camera and video transmission system that works with the DJI Goggles. GetFPV’s website, for example, is showing them as out of stock.

Part of a wider issue…


We were already aware of the Caddx issue, and had spoken to the company (which will be back in stock before long). We’d also heard from dealers about other shortages. So all of this was in our minds when an excellent @CNBC video was published on Twitter today. It delves into the broader global issue and is a really well put-together piece of journalism. Have a look:

There’s a lot of information in this excellent video

DroneDJ’s take

This is definitely bubbling away in the background – and supply chains will continue to be impacted for months. We’re going to put in a query with DJI to see if the company is willing to discuss its own supply chain, but certainly there are impacts elsewhere.

There are signs the global chip industry is now working hard to catch up. But it’s not there yet, and won’t be for several months. You can find the full CNBC story here, and it’s a good read.

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