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IBM Giving Away 1,500 DJI Drones in Developer Competition


IBM Giving Away 1,500 DJI Drones in Developer Competition


IBM is giving away free drones as a part of a competition to encourage people to explore solutions in order to mitigate the effects of natural disasters by using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and drones as tools in disaster relief operations. IBM has declared open its Developer Drone Drop 2019 contest. Officially underway now through June 16 the company’s contest will give away 1,500 drones to developers who enter, in the hopes that they will use the drones to deliver AI-powered solutions to the problems caused by natural disasters.

According to IBM: the winners will receive more than just a robot. The company statement says, “The DJI Tello drone is more than just a cool prize. We’ll give you code patterns to unlock its potential, and introduce you to new skills around visual recognition, AI and machine learning.” The winners will be selected at random, not by judges.

Inspiring developers who, otherwise, might not have access to IBM‘s resources and mentors is already paying off for the company. The giveaways are courtesy IBM‘s Code and Response– a new initiative this year that aims to empower developers with the resources and support to implement original technology-based solutions to humanity’s open problems.  TNW asked IBM Code and Response CTO Daniel Krook about why IBM was giving away these drones for free, he replied: “Who doesn’t like free drones? It’s about inspiring people … it’s not just altruism on IBM‘s part, we believe this technology can help humanity and IBM is a part of humanity.”

TNW also interviewed Pedro Cruz who developed his drone-based disaster relief tech and is one of last year’s hackathon winners, about his inspiration for his project. Cruz said he developed solution which uses computer vision and drones to look for survivors and pattern recognition to help them get the specific kind of help they need, as a result of his experience in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

“The phones weren’t working, I had no signal…” Cruz said, “The streets were full of debris, there were power lines down all over. I knew I wasn’t supposed to go out, but I had to know my mother and my grandmother were safe… Luckily I was able to get to my parents without much trouble, but I couldn’t get to my grandmother’s place. Thankfully, I had my drone with me.” Not only did his drone camera relay images of his parents being safe but it also relayed images of Cruz’s grandmother waving at him happily to convey she was safe. This done experience eventually inspired Cruz work with IBM for developing a more robust AI-based drone solution that scouted for disasters survivors. He’s now an IBM employee.

Those interested in the Developer Drone drop competition can sign up for their free IBM cloud account and submit their entry on IBM’s contest page and win a DJI Tello drone. The contest is open to developers in the US, Canada, Spain, and the UK.

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Cite this article as: Vidi Nene, "IBM Giving Away 1,500 DJI Drones in Developer Competition," in, May 30, 2019,

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