Shenzhen, China-headquartered DJI has expanded to California’s Silicon Valley by opening a new research and development (R&D) office in Palo Alto.
Rob Schlub joins the company as vice president of R&D, and Darren Liccardo joins as vice president of engineering. The two will open and run the new office, which will eventually include several dozen engineers.
The office will conduct its own R&D for DJI, as well as facilitate and deepen collaboration with Silicon Valley’s robotics community. The new location will add to and diversify DJI’s R&D operations, which to date, have been largely focused in Shenzhen but have been expanding internationally in recent months. DJI says it has an R&D staff of 1,500, as well as hundreds of patents on file.
DJI is a global developer and manufacturer of drone and camera technology for commercial and recreational use. Its global operations currently span North America, Europe and Asia, and its products have been bought by customers in over 100 countries. The company recently established a corporate partnership with Hasselblad Group, a Sweden-based manufacturer of medium-format cameras and lenses.
Schlub joins DJI following several years of experience at Apple, where he was initially hired to work on the original iPhone. In his eight years there, he built and led Apple’s antenna-design team and left the company as its director of antenna design. Before Apple, Rob was a principal engineer at Antenova in Cambridge, England, where he led a team developing antenna technology for cellular products. He holds 120 patents, patent applications and publications.
“We couldn’t be more excited to be expanding R&D into Palo Alto,” he says. “The tremendous talent and technology of Silicon Valley will help us continue to design market-defining products that change the world.”
Liccardo’s background is in automotive and aerospace engineering, specializing in autonomous systems. He comes to DJI from Tesla Motors, where he was the electric car company’s director of autopilot engineering. Previously, he led efforts in autonomous-driving research and technology scouting at BMW’s technology office – the German automaker’s Silicon Valley outpost. Prior to that, he was director of inertial systems at Crossbow Technology, a Silicon Valley start-up that developed solid-state inertial/GPS navigation systems for aircraft and robotic applications.