Ford Developer Blog

Make It Driveable Challenge: Los Angeles, 2018

Posted on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 by Ford Dev Team

Scott Burnell of the FordDev Team gives us a behind-the-scenes report from the Make It Driveable Challenge LA, which was hosted during Mobile World Congress Americas, 11-14 September.

In the sporting world, a ‘back-to-back’ is known as a celebration. In the past 30 years we have seen the Pistons win back-to-back championships. We have seen the Red Wings do it too. And the Lions? Well, we know they have won back-to-back games at some point. The FordDev Team pulled off its own back-to-back feats this month hosting two Make It Driveable Challenges in Tel Aviv and Los Angeles.

First up was the MID Challenge Tel Aviv (visit – you can read our story on the Tel Aviv event here) which was held on September 3-4 and following fast on its heels was the MID Challenge LA, which took place at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Challenge was held as part of the 2nd Annual SDL Developer Conference during Mobile World Congress Americas that included a day-long learning conference, demos of AppLink and other SDL-enabled solutions on the MWCA exhibit floor.

Set in the iconic Ace Hotel, the Challenge drew upon the rich history of innovation that envelops the downtown LA scene. This is where early movie moguls first brought entertainment ideas to the masses, a perfect setting for the second-floor space that was filled with eager developers as Ford’s Kevin Burdette delivered his SDL Masterclass Session, the first introduction to in-vehicle development that some of the challengers had ever seen.

Previously formed teams and on-site collaborations participated in the challenge, and once they found their rhythm, ideas started to flow. Cocktails and appetizers provided by NAB Pilot provided a welcomed breather (and a little more inspiration!) to the Challengers. Then it was back to the task at hand: coding and testing assumptions against the emulators and the TDKs that were scattered around the room.

The rubber really hit the road during the last 12 hours of the hackathon, with alternating periods of deep silence and electric buzz. At some intense moments in the room, the brave teams were huddled around their laptops, deep in concentration, writing code, designing in-vehicle HMIs, or simply gazing out the window in a trance-like state due to lack of sleep. Other Challengers were bouncing ideas off each other, pausing only to enjoy the Intelematics midnight snack offerings, or seeing how many SDL fidget spinners one really can stack on top of another!

Finally, after many long hours hunched over laptops came the time to present the fruits of their labor. Participants were invited to show off their hard work and innovative ideas on stage during the SDL Conference the following day. Each team had 5 minutes to deliver their problem-statement and their SDL solution to an audience of over 150 people. They were given a presentation template and encouraged to produce a creative delivery using video, emulators and in-vehicle screenshots. All eleven teams did just that!

As someone who has seen many (and I mean many!) Challenge presentations, I can say that this group really impressed. It’s not always easy to jump on stage in front of hundreds of people and show off a product that isn’t fully polished and ready for consumption. Letting others peek behind the curtain can be nerve-wracking, but all of these teams came through with shining colors. All of our Challengers should be very proud of their presentations.

Not only did the conference audience get to watch the Challenge presentation, they also got involved. In another first for the SDL Conference, this year the audience got to vote on each entry in real-time. The audience score was added to the judges score, and then, the combined total decided the winners. It was a great way to see so many different points of view come together in creating a great buzz between the Challengers and the audience.

Once the votes were tallied, not once, but twice (just to make sure!), the top 3 teams in the Los Angeles Make It Driveable Challenge were:


Grand Prize - $5000


Winner - Tribal Scale


This app uses vehicle data such as GPS and cameras, to geofence a vehicle as an owner is driving through the city. Images of the surroundings are fed in to an AI engine which can then return the locations and events associated to the locations to offer drivers info on what is physically around them (museums, historical markers, points of interest, etc.) and what events they may be interested in attending (ball games, plays).


Second Place - Surface Pro Laptops & Keyboard Covers


Winner - CarPay


Securing parking spots, paying tolls, even fuel, everything in the smart car will need to be paid for. With CarPay, owners can set up an account once and apply payments all over town while going through their normal day.


Third Place - Tickets to the iHeartRadio Theater to See Choice of Artist


Winner - NAB Pilot


Accessing the broadcast radio tuner in an SDL-enabled vehicle opens up a whole new world of features and capabilities. The team showed us how a driver can enjoy their favorite radio station even as they travel outside of the broadcast signal area as an app running in the background that seamlessly switches from over the air, to internet broadcast without the driver having to do a thing. Other features included; a simple search for stations of a favorite genre while driving in an unfamiliar city without having to press the seek button continuously, and the ability for broadcasters to show contextual ads.

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