Creative Audi employees developed practical software prototypes for tomorrow’s business models during the third Audi IT Hackathon from July 19–21. Untethered from their daily routines, more than 100 employees from every AUDI AG division worked to fine-tune their ideas in innovation fields like big data, deep learning, virtual reality and wearable computing. The programming competition supports Audi on its way to becoming the premium digital car company.

In keeping with the principle of “starting from scratch,” 20 teams worked within a 48-hour period to create completely new use cases for the digital future of Audi. These included a prototype for a special application that can detect the model and equipment version using a simple photo. Self-learning algorithms were also a focus in a software solution that not only uses a customer’s portrait to estimate their age and gender but also offers a recommended Audi model. Easing the way into the digital future is a hand-held object with which the digital functions in a car, such as music, can be activated by simply putting it on.

Mattias Ulbrich, Chief Information Officer at Audi, explain the background for the event: “We have outstanding talent here at Audi, with an incredible number of creative ideas. With the Audi IT Hackathon, we wanted to give them the opportunity to develop and implement these ideas in an inspiring atmosphere and in interdisciplinary teams.”

This year marked the third round of the Hackathon, firmly establishing it as an internal innovation forum. The number of participants has grown steadily. For this reason, the event was held for the first time in the spacious surroundings of the Kulturzentrum neun in Ingolstadt. Employees from Audi hotbeds of innovation like Audi Electronics Venture (AEV) and Audi Business Innovation (ABI) were present, as were employees from the new subsidiary Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID). On Friday a jury of Audi experts evaluated the results according to criteria such as degree of innovation and technical feasibility. The evaluation also incorporated the opinions of the participants.

“We continue driving progress on the projects after the Hackathon as well. For this, we are supporting the three winning teams with start-up capital as well as internal professionals who are helping with implementation,” said Gunnar Lange, Head of Audi IT Predevelopment and Innovation Management.

The first two Hackathons produced a machine learning chatbot for smart car booking, for instance. In the future, Audi will be able to use this self-learning software for its exclusive Audi at home mobility service. In another project, Audi employees developed a prototype that uses artificial intelligence to automatically detect damage to wheel rims on cars. Also among the top finishers was a program that connects the Amazon voice-controlled assistant Alexa with Audi connect.