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

Microsoft DJI competition

Microsoft and DJI prepare young engineers and technology enthusiasts for the future of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics

January 18, 2019, Hong Kong –– It was the first day of class. But a very different type of class – casually gathered in groups on a green field, with drones flying around and students speaking in new technology terms such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), object recognition and aerial robotics.

Over 60 young engineers and 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 today to shape high flying futures through the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and drones.

With the competition being organized by Microsoft and DJI, fifteen teams of university students participated in a series of two-day workshops ahead of today’s competition to learn about computer learning and object recognition using Microsoft’s Custom Vision solution and Azure Cloud Computing Platform, as well as drones flying techniques to compete for the top spot.

“The whole experience was eye-opening. I’ve heard the term AI during classes. While I understand this is an important technology for the future, but 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. This is a very memorable experience,” said Liang Zhijian, captain of the winning team from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

The competition required students to fly their pre-trained DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone in a challenge to recognize different objects such as apple, pear, pomelo, banana and mango. The teams were ranked by judges from Microsoft and DJI, scored on the accuracy and number of objects identified using AI technology, as well as physical drone flying skills and completion time.

“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 closely with each other. This can make it confusing for the AI system. I’m glad that we trained our system thoroughly by inputting a lot of related images to the AI system ahead of the competition – this helped us to achieve a good results in today’s competition,” said Susanto Christopher Alvin from The 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. What the students have demonstrated today is just one of the many possibilities. We look forward to seeing how our combined technologies can help simplify workflows and bring tangible benefits to people and businesses across different industries,” said Christina Zhang, Senior Director, Corporate Strategy & Communication at DJI.

“Learning should always be fun, engaging and experiential. Combing AI with drones provides a unique opportunity to educate students about new technologies like never before. As computing has immersed in our everyday life, the intelligent edge is emerging as the next technology frontier. Together with DJI, we are combing intelligent cloud, best-in-class aerial technology and Azure IoT capabilities to devices on edge, potentially changing the future of various industries such as construction, public safety and more,” said Winnie Chu, Business Group Lead, Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft Hong Kong

For more highlights about the final competition, visit or

Event photo

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During the opening remarks, Cally Chan, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong welcomed guests and students, highlighting the competition objective in preparing young talents to be future ready

Microsoft DJI CompetitionMicrosoft DJI Compeition

Microsoft Hong Kong and DJI today introduced the first Hong Kong AI x Drones Joint Universities Competition and students are flying their pre-trained drones to compete for the top prize

Microsoft DJI competition

A group photograph of all the winning teams with Microsoft Hong Kong and DJI representatives, from left to right:

  • 1st runner-up: Student team Group 5 from The University of Hong Kong, each team member was awarded a Surface Go
  • Christina Zhang, Senior Director of Corporate Strategy & Communication at DJI
  • Champion: Student team Group 3 from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, each team member was awarded a DJI Mavic Air
  • Kelvin Tse, Director, Public Sector, Microsoft Hong Kong
  • 2nd runner-up: Student team Group 5 from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, each team member was awarded a DJI Spark

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About Microsoft
Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

About DJI
DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, was founded and is run by people with a passion for remote-controlled helicopters and experts in flight-control technology and camera stabilization. The company is dedicated to making aerial photography and filmmaking equipment and platforms more accessible, reliable and easier to use for creators and innovators around the world. DJI’s global operations currently span across the Americas, Europe and Asia, and its revolutionary products and solutions have been chosen by customers in over 100 countries for applications in filmmaking, construction, inspection, emergency response, agriculture, conservation and other industries. For more info, visit

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