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Alibaba to supply AI and data tech to Chinese deep space exploration and smart city projects

Dr Jian Wang, chairman of Alibaba Group Technology Steering Committee

Alibaba will be among 13 businesses working with the Hangzhou government on a ‘brain’ for the city and will work with the National Astronomical Observatory of China (NAOC) on deep space exploration projects, it announced at its annual Computing Conference this week.

According to the retail and cloud computing giant, it will be supplying a range of its tech services such as AI, deep learning and data storage. The B2B technology supply side to the Alibaba business is growing fast and puts it very much in battle with Amazon on a global playing field.

The Hangzhou City Brain project is a new government initiative to address its urban city living issues, such as traffic congestion. It will use Alibaba Cloud’s AI program “ET” and big data analytics capabilities to perform real-time traffic prediction by using its video and image recognition technologies.

Dr Jian Wang, chairman of Alibaba Group Technology Steering Committee, said: “By establishing the Hangzhou City Brain, Hangzhou is taking the lead in harnessing artificial intelligence and deep learning technologies to promote greater sustainability and improve the quality of urban living for Chinese citizens. Alibaba Cloud is proud to support and be part of this important development.”

The main part of Alibaba’s involvement in the “Hangzhou City Brain” is data processing and analysis capabilities, which will be powered by Apsara, Alibaba Cloud’s large scale computing operating system. According to the business, it is able to cluster millions of servers into a ‘supercomputer’ and uses proprietary algorithms to analyse the data.

The project for NAOC will be primarily about setting up a data and research centre for astronomy, as well as a virtual solar observatory which will also use Apsara to process astronomical data. According to Alibaba, China aims to be placed as the global leader in deep space radio telescope research.

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