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24-hour Daimler hackathon in Silicon Valley

Students and young professionals met on 5-6 November in Silicon Valley, California, to compete in the fifth 24-hour hackathon jointly organized by the Business Innovation Team of Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Mercedes-Benz Vans and DigitalLife@Daimler.

The task was to develop intelligent transport and mobility concepts for the Mercedes-Benz Vans division. With its strategic initiative “adVANce”, Mercedes-Benz Vans is transforming itself from a vehicle manufacturer into a provider of integrated, customer-focused solutions. Since the start of the year, the Future Transportation Systems team in Silicon Valley has been working on concrete logistics concepts. The team’s “garage” in Menlo Park was also the venue for the hackathon.

Experienced mentors were on hand to help. After 24 hours, the ideas were pitched to the judges at the headquarters of Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America in Sunnyvale. Each team had four minutes to convincingly present their propositions to an interdisciplinary panel of expert judges from Mercedes‑Benz and Daimler. The jury rated criteria such as the degree of innovation and business potential of the ideas as well as the use of IoT and cloud technologies and the functionality of the prototype.

The winning team “MBarc” developed an app that enables the driver at all times to assess the damage on the vehicle. The driver uses his smartphone to take a 360‑degree shot of their van. The app then accesses data-based reference models, compares them with the vehicle and identifies possible damage. The damage is then analysed and the need for repair is assessed—a quick and simple way to optimize fleet management.

The second-placed team, “FleetWise”, was successful with the idea of intelligent fleet routing for electric vehicles. Machine learning is employed to determine the usage of the vehicle battery based on current traffic situations and the driver’s driving style as well as on the weight and size of the vehicle. As a next step, the app suggests a suitably energy-saving route or indicates the way to the nearest charging station.

Third place went to the “VANage” team, which used IoT- and cloud-based sensors, route information and driver profiles to accurately predict maintenance intervals in order to increase driver safety as well as to efficiently plan vehicle usage times.

With the Hackathon we were not only able to inspire smart minds for our brand but also gain concrete ideas for digital solutions around our transporters. We now want to work intensively with the interested teams and discuss possibilities for implementation.

—Nicolaas Tempelhoff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans Future Transportation Systems North America

After Stuttgart, Beijing, the IAA in Hanover, Bangalore and now Silicon Valley, the DigitalLife@Daimler team has successfully completed the first cycle of hackathon events.

It was fascinating to experience how, in a very short time, almost 300 enthusiastic competitors from all around the world were able to apply such great entrepreneurialism and team spirit, in close consultation with our experts, to develop innovative ideas and thereby contribute to the digital transformation at Daimler.

—Markus Hägele, Head of DigitalLife@Daimler


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Do like Tesla pay hackers bounties for finding security holes. You can't come up with a really good hack in 24 hours anyway so what is the point.

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