Envisioning the Future: Connecting People and Goods with Shared Automated Electric and Connected Vehicles Hackathon

Gearing up for an exciting Bridge SF 2016 conference, held partly on the UC Berkeley campus, the David Brower Center (home to the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC)) and in San Francisco, ITS Berkeley and TSRC teamed up to host a Disrupting Mobility Hackathon at the ITS Library Sept. 3-4, 2016 to explore how Shared Automated Electric and Connected (SECA) vehicles will impact the way people and goods move within a city. And according to hackathon winners, it involves an automated carsharing app for peer-to-peer carsharing.

“Bringing together a diverse group of people to look at how goods and people will move as transportation technology progresses and hearing their solutions was a wonderful experience,” says TSRC Co-Director Susan Shaheen. “The excitement and passion in the room was very encouraging.”
 
Drawing students and professional, many people took up the task of envisioning how SECA vehicles could impact residents, commuters and businesses and answer questions like how could SECA vehicles better serve the underserved; lead to greater safety; adapt to new or unpredictable changes including emergencies; can multiple shared services work together; and can multi-modal integration be achieved between various public and private transportation modes?
 
After opening remarks and introductions on Saturday, Sept. 3, participants divided into four teams to create innovative models for the future of transportation, with the help of mentors After thinking on their problem and solution overnight, teams came back Sunday to finalize their thoughts and prepare their presentations for judging at 2 p.m. Judges included experts from sponsor International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR), UC Berkeley, City Innovate, and the Future Cities Lab (Singapore).
 
Two teams, GoCar and Generate UCI, were named as finalists in a tough competition, with GoCar winning Microsoft Biz Spark memberships, donated by Microsoft.
 
“This was a great learning experience, to think about a problem and find a solution with a group of people from different backgrounds,” said Sunny Zhang from team GoCar. “I loved hearing about all the ideas from the other teams!”
 
Winning team, GoCar, chose to pursue a peer-to-peer shared automated model and included a demonstration that focused on high-tech access. Their idea for peer-to-peer carsharing was similar to Airbnb, where people would buy automated vehicles to rent out throughout cities and suburbs. Benefits include solving the parking problem, reducing transportation costs, and making better use of private vehicles assets. Owners also could make money at the same time.
 
The runner-up team from Irvine, Calif., Generate UCI focused their efforts on connectivity to public transit and disadvantaged populations, creating a vision where automated vehicles could fill gaps in the transportation network. They argued their automated vehicles will also better serve low income neighborhoods due to reduced costs and travel times.
 
Transporting Our Fragile Neighbors focused on mobilizing senior populations in the San Francisco area, pulling information from area data sets. Their vision looked at shared automated mobility and emergency evacuation in a crisis.
 
Team Transport also focused on improving San Francisco transportation, especially filling public transport gaps with accessible and clean mobility using automated vehicles for travelers and goods movement.
 
Team projects were evaluated on their value-add to the end users including research academics and institutions; developers and planning departments; and to the general public especially in regards to improved travel times, accessibility, equity, economic benefits, scalability, open source design and user interface, and environmental impact.
 
The hackathon was generously supported by platinum sponsor IATR, and silver sponsors car2go, Siemens, and Microsoft.
 
BRIDGE SF is a collaboration of public, private, non-profit, and academic institutions coming together to challenge assumptions, develop skills, share best practices, and build partnerships that drive innovation for a better tomorrow. The four-day conference Sept.6-9 , 2016 is hosted by the San Francisco Mayor's Office, the University of California, Berkeley, and City Innovate Foundation and brings together policymakers and leading innovators from across the Bay Area and around the world to focus on citizen-critical issues.