Next-Generation Talents Soar to New Heights in Hong Kong's First AI x Drones Joint University Competition

Si TeamOver 60 young technology enthusiasts from Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) converged at Hong Kong's first AI x Drones Joint University Competition on 18th January 2019 organized by Microsoft and DJI, to shape high flying futures through the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and drones.

15 teams of university students participated in a series of two-day workshops where the competition required students to fly their pre-trained DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone in a challenge to recognize different objects such as an apple, pear, pomelo, banana and mango.

"I've heard the term AI during classes. While I understand this is an important technology for the future, it seemed like a distant topic to us. With this competition, we were able to have hands-on experience and it was fascinating to learn about object recognition and be part of the real-world developer community, such as using GitHub, cloud and tinkering with a drone," says Liang Zhijian,
Winning Team Captain, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

"This was our first time flying a drone and we also needed to train our drone to recognize objects. The process was fun, at the same time challenging because there were quite a number of different fruits and they were placed close to each other. I'm glad that we trained our system thoroughly by inputting a lot of related images to the AI system ahead of the competition," says Susanto Christopher Alvin, University of Hong Kong.

The competition came after the announcement of DJI and Microsoft's global strategic partnership in mid-2018, which brings advanced AI and machine-learning capabilities to DJI drones. As AI and robotics become critical skills and fundamentals for the next digital era, the two global technology leaders have joined hands to nurture the brightest local engineers and roboticists of tomorrow via the provision of learning platforms and access to these cutting-edge technologies.

"We are delighted to partner with Microsoft on this meaningful project. Not only is this competition an opportunity for young engineers to learn about our latest aerial and AI technologies, it's a chance for them to create something real and explore applications that could be used in the real world," says Christina Zhang, Senior Director, Corporate Strategy & Communication, DJI.

"Learning should always be fun, engaging and experiential. Combining AI with drones provides a unique opportunity to educate students about new technologies like never before. Together with DJI, we are combining intelligent cloud, best-in-class aerial technology and Azure IoT capabilities to devices on the edge, potentially changing the future of various industries such as construction, public safety and more," says Winnie Chu, Business Group Lead, Cloud & Enterprise, Microsoft Hong Kong.