24 hours, 16 projects and hundreds of ideas. The Groupe Renault TechCrunch Hackathon fulfilled all of its promises during the 2018 Vivatech Show. Thanks to the numerous participants and Groupe Renault mentor-experts, the future of the autonomous vehicle is looking extremely bright.
Chairs clatter, people sit down, stand up, and talk. It is 2 pm on Friday May 25 and the TechCrunch @Vivatech hackathon is well under way. Five large companies issued challenges to the participants, with Groupe Renault boasting the largest contingent consisting of roughly 70 developers from a number of countries including France, Ukraine and Turkey. Their objective is simple: “Imagine the on-board and off-board services that will make the autonomous vehicle”. The key idea was to give free reign to creativity, as Benoît Joly, Range Director, Connected Vehicles and New Mobilities, explains. “At this point, after just one hour of work, they still need to come up with as many ideas as possible.”
Four Groupe Renault experts are here to support the teams. Valerie Pascual, José Santinho, Sandrine Woll and Pascal Zylberstejn are specialists in robo vehicles, autonomous vehicles and connected services.
“Our role is to help them fully grasp the issues involved in this project. We are also here to challenge their ideas but not to hinder their creativity – we have to find that balance,” says Benoît Joly
And the ideas are coming heavy and fast. Working at large round tables, the teams start to form around shared goals and the initial projects are submitted to the approval of the experts. “How about a Pokémon Go with monuments for an augmented tourism experience?” says one participant. “And autonomous transport to enhance the mobility of seniors?” says another.
The idea of the Pinky Car team made up of Maryline, Nadhir and François is to “transform cars into tourist guides”. The three students, who already know each other, decided on the theme ahead of the event. “We chose the Groupe Renault challenge because we found it inspiring. We are fascinated by autonomous mobility. We thought about what we could do with all the time saved during journeys, and because we love to travel we came up with the idea of a tourist guide.”
After a few hours, the initial rowdiness has died down. The teams are now fully formed and the ideas have been honed. “It’s an excellent idea and the issue of vehicle autonomy is key to this project,” says a mentor about a parking space location system for autonomous vehicles. The hackathon now moves into its IT coding phase. Night falls and a good 15 hours still remain.
Midday Saturday, the end of the challenge nears. The presentations are thoroughly checked and the last details refined. After a busy night, the tables that were neat and tidy the day before have now seen the passage of food, drinks and many hours of work. The faces of the participants are tired but determined.
The much-anticipated presentations are fast approaching. The teams have one minute to convince (in English) the Groupe Renault jury of Philippe Clogenson, Mathieu Lips and Laurent Taupin, autonomous vehicle specialists. At the conclusion of the hackathon, the jury reviews 16 projects ranging from the gamification of autonomous vehicle data, augmented reality tourism, and a blockchain system for making vehicle lending easier. The teams have worked hard to win over the demanding jury.
The presentations are made on a special stage in front of the numerous participants, enthusiastic to find out more about the ideas of their peers.
And the winner is... “AutoPark”.
The real-life benefit for customers was central to the Groupe Renault jury’s choice of the winning project. “The service has to provide a technological solution to a problem experienced by drivers or passengers,” said the jury. After a lively deliberation, the jury chose the parking solution as the winning project because it could be rapidly rolled out and, above all, provides a real benefit for users – still further proof of the “Easy Life” by Renault.
For Matthieu, a member of the winning “AutoPark” team, the prize was the culmination of a stimulating day.
“We met yesterday with the other members of the team and starting working together immediately. Through the hackathon, we have created something new with people from a range of different backgrounds. Our team included two Italians, a Tunisian, a Turkish person and a French person. The Renault mentors successfully guided us towards the right solution and believed in our project. Our victory is the icing on the cake. We all had a fantastic time.”
With contented participants, successful mentors and an interested jury, Groupe Renault’s first participation in the TechCrunch @Vivatech hackathon proved an immense success!