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Unexpected innovator: Shanghai boy challenges DJI in drone making

Gong Zhe, Yang Yiren

 , Updated 17:14, 23-Jan-2024

In the world of technology, innovation often comes from those we least expect.

Tom Rein is not satisfied with just high school courses in Shanghai. Instead, he wants to challenge Shenzhen-based DJI – the world's largest drone maker – in what they do best.

To put his words into practice, the 16-year-old learned how to create 3D models on a computer and utilized China's supply chain to 3D-print his ideal design into actual products – the TAV series, or Tom's Aerial Vehicle.

The TAV V2 is the second iteration of the series, which can carry 7 kilograms of payload to fly at a maximum speed of 90 kilometers per hour for 30 minutes. Tom said the drone is "amongst the lightest and most portable professional platforms up to date" in his YouTube video in 2021.

The TAV V3 is an emergency rescue drone that can fly in extreme environments like a 3,000-meter-high plateau, where the temperature is low and the air is thin. It can also help law enforcement personnel stay safe while scouting.

With three iterations in place, Tom said he is confident that the TAV series will make a difference in a drone market dominated by DJI.

Tom is also interested in building speakers. He told CGTN that the current audiophile speakers are too large and expensive, while the smaller ones cannot meet his requirements on sound quality. So he built his own speaker, the Bean series.

One of his clients, Becky Xia, bought 25 Beans for personal use and as gifts to friends. She told CGTN that the sound quality is "pretty good," and she enjoys the portability of the speaker.

For his drones and speakers, Tom has successfully applied for four patents in China, two for designs and the other two for utility.

Tom said he currently serves business clients, but he won't rule out the possibility of selling the products on the consumer market.

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