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Pigs can fly: a look at the innovative tech on display at Alibaba Cloud 2018 event


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

September 24, 2018 | 3 min read

Alibaba held its annual cloud computing conference in its hometown of Hangzhou over three days last week, from 19-21 September, where it showcased its latest innovations.


Yunqi Cloud Town in Hangzhou. Photo: Alibaba.

Into its ninth year, the conference held at Yunqi Cloud Town, is the e-commerce giant's attempt to showcase Hangzhou as China's 'Silicon Valley', a title currently held by the city of Shenzhen, home to its rival Tencent, telco giant Huawei and drone maker DJI.

The Drum was on the ground in Hangzhou and witnessed some interesting innovations from Alibaba Cloud, aside from its plans for autonomous vehicles, such as technology to help rear pigs.

Combating China's traffic - ET City Brain

Navigating traffic in China is frustrating, to say the least, with the country predicted to have nearly as many drivers as the US has people. With the ET City Brain powered by Alibaba Cloud, which the Hangzhou provincial government has already adopted, machine learning can be used to optimise traffic flows through controlling traffic signals and instantly informing the traffic police about incidents that might cause delay.


It can also ensure efficient utilisation of public transportation in the city by matching supply with demand by monitoring traffic from video feeds across the city, drawing data from mapping apps, telecom carriers, and Wi-Fi probes to assess passenger density in different areas.

Rearing pigs - ET Agricultural Brain


Using AI tech such as visual recognition, voice recognition and real-time environmental parameter monitoring, the ET Agricultural Brain monitors each hog’s daily activity, growth indicators, pregnancy and other health conditions through a barcode on the pig, bringing more insights to pig farmers.

Machine learning will also allow farmers to monitor the farm and the animals in real time. For example, the system will automatically prescribe a plan of activity for hogs that need to improve their health and yield, detect sick hogs and minimise accidents, such as protecting piglets from accidents.

Clearer skies - ET Aviation Brain

The Aviation Brain uses analysis of security check and passenger monitoring, automatic facial recognition system for security check and intelligent stand assignment system in airports in Chonginq, Hangzhou and Beijing to help increase efficiency for both passengers and airport staff.

It also reduces on-the-ground congestion by digitally assigning planes to aprons, or parking spaces for aircraft.

Passengers can also talk to virtual agents, who have been created to look human-like. These bots are stationed around around the airports to find out details like flight info and passenger announcements.

Tech Technology Alibaba

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Alibaba Group Holding Limited is a Chinese multinational e-commerce, retail, Internet, AI and technology conglomerate founded in 1999.

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