IBM to Power Unmanned Drones with Artificial Intelligence, Partners with Aerieltronics

IBM’s growth mantra over the past few years has been “buy as many as you can”. A quick look at the number of companies that IBM has snagged in the last five years shows how ‘fast and furious’ the 114-year-old company has become in its quest to transform its business areas from traditional to forward-looking.

You can see the list of IBM’s acquisitions here.

The company has been laser-focused on strengthening its Analytics and Cloud division, and clearly these are the two segments that have been growing over recent quarters. IBM’s Analytics division had nearly $5 billion in sales during the last quarter. For the sake of comparison, Salesforce, the market leader in the Customer Relationship Management Software-as-a-Service segment and the market favorite, has just crossed $2 billion in quarterly revenues.

Unfortunately for the company, most of the discussion keeps revolving around its cloud business while Analytics keeps coming out and fading away. But the reality is that their Analytics business is much stronger than their cloud business, at least from a sales standpoint.

IBM Watson is the power behind their Analytics offerings. Watson, named after the company’s founder Thomas J Watson, is a technology platform that uses artificial intelligence (machine learning, natural language processing, etc.) to reveal insights into large data sets comprising multiple types of structured and unstructured data. To put it simply, Watson uses AI to work on humongous amounts of data and derive specific patterns and insights that will help you make better decisions about your company, whether it’s marketing, cybersecurity, healthcare, autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things or some other area.

The company announced today that IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Aerialtronics, a Netherlands-based designer and producer of unmanned aircraft systems, today announced the first commercial drones featuring cognitive computing capabilities from the IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) Platform on IBM Cloud.  Aerialtronics vehicles can provide high-quality inspection services for global organizations across multiple industries, from monitoring city traffic patterns to inspecting wind turbines, oil rigs and cell tower optimization.“

Commercial drones have been around for quite some time, but what is interesting here is the combination of commercial drones with Watson’s IoT platform. The company says: 

“Rather than climbing towers, inspecting key areas and reporting back findings, teams can deploy Aerialtronics drones from the ground and, through high definition cameras and Watson Visual Recognition APIs, immediately gain a complete 360-degree, high resolution overview while understanding what it’s seeing. Drones can capture these important images in minutes and with the push of a button, immediately send the images to the IBM Watson IoT Platform to be analyzed in near real-time.”

“Pairing the unlimited perspective of drones with Watson IoT can bring these powerful cognitive capabilities to any location, where it can be used to analyze unexpected traffic patterns resulting from nearby construction or how a train is performing while it’s in transit,” said Harriet Green, General Manager, IBM Watson Internet of Things, Commerce & Education. “We are very excited to work with Aerialtronics to bring these capabilities to telecommunications providers and we look forward to continuing to push the boundaries on what this pairing can accomplish.”

It’s clear that analytics is one of the key future drivers of growth for IBM, and every initiative from commercial unmanned drones to cancer diagnosis to cybersecurity projects point to this fact. Despite cloud being the ‘star player’ in IBM’s line up, I think analytics is the real behind-the-scenes hero for the company.

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