On Friday, October 25, Bosch kicked-off their annual Urban Mobility Hackathon at the Chicago Connectory.
Bosch’s Urban Mobility Hackathon brings students together to develop solutions that address common issues surrounding mobility. This year, participants were put on teams and asked to develop a solution for one of four focus areas: Congestion & Traffic Management, Public Transit & Intermodality, First/Last Mile Delivery of Goods and AV Adoption.
Adam Hecktman, director of technology & civic innovation at Chicago Microsoft Corporation, kicked-off the hackathon with a presentation on civic tech. Although there are many different definitions of civic tech, the overarching message is the same: civic tech brings people, technology, and the government together to better a community. The key is collaboration between citizens, non-profits/foundations, universities, incubators/startups and large corporations.
Adam then gave some examples of civic tech created in Chicago. These included, Foodborne Chicago, which tracks tweets using machine-learning that identifies keywords like ‘food-poison’ in Chicago, and the CHI 311 app, which allows residents and businesses to quickly and easily connect to city services.
Beth Bond, head of city development in North America for Bosch, then began the panel portion of the kick-off. The panel consisted of experts in each of the four focus areas.
David Leopold, director of city solutions for City Tech Collaborative, described the issues with the ‘modern’ curb. Unlike when it was first designed, they see more action than ever, whether through ridesharing, eCommerce delivery, or public transit, the curb wasn’t designed with these services in mind. He challenged participants to think of a new way to revolutionize the curb.
Eric Rask, principle research engineer at Argonne National Labs, then discussed the various challenges and opportunities that come with autonomous vehicles in urban settings. The panel concluded with insight from Jerry Quandt, executive director of the Illinois Autonomous Vehicles Association, on the challenges in tackling the ‘last-mile’ problem. The last-mile problem refers to inefficiencies in getting a product from a warehouse or distribution center to the final end-user.
With new information and insight from experts, students were invited to start the hackathon. The first day had the students focusing on their product name, brand identity, pitch practice and rough prototyping.
On the second day, the seven groups had five minutes each to present their solutions to the judges. In the end, there were three winners for best overall solution, best public policy idea and best data process.
Thank you Bosch for two days of innovative thinking around mobility. We can’t wait for next year’s Hackathon!