IBM's Watson Partners with Aerialtronics to Enter Drone Industry


IBM is edging into the airborne safety and maintenance market early with a deal to bring its Watson internet of things (IoT) technology to unmanned aircraft systems built by Netherlands-based Aerialtronics.

Per the agreement, IBM will connect Watson's visual recognition application programming interfaces, IBM's cloud, drones, and high definition cameras to perform inspections on assets such as wind turbines, oil rigs, and cell towers. The basic concept revolves around the premise that drones can perform the visual inspections so human's don't have to climb towers and risk injury, or even death.

Various enterprises will deploy Aerialtronics' drones to send images sent back to the IoT platform where they will be assessed via tIBM's visual recognition application programming interfaces (APIs). These APIs will analyze the images captured by the drone to detect problems like damaged cabling or equipment defects.

Aerialtronics views cell tower inspection as the first stage in the evolution. The company expects the combination of drones and Watson IoT to help companies gain actionable insights into numerous facets of their operations.

IBM is not alone entering the space. In fact, the company faces stiff competition from the likes of General Electric, Cisco, Microsoft, and even DJI. Even Qualcomm announced last week that it has created a board and Snapdragon processor that can work inside drones and leverage wireless connectivity. Ultimately, IBM is hoping to use Watson's IoT capabilities for crowd safety and recognizing anomalies, as well as damage assessments for first responders and aviation. There is little doubt that the technology of UAV's and their various systems are on the verge of sparking a new technology revolution.

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