That mission propels team members from all over the world to spend 72 hours together in Plano, Texas, each October for the annual Toyota SWARM Global Hackathon. The results from late nights, tall cups of coffee and teamwork can influence software development for today's Toyota and Lexus vehicles and beyond.
This year, a record 63 teams – versus 42 competing teams in 2022 – from four continents and 13 affiliates came together on October 16-19 to solve four challenges.
- Initial Quality (IQS) and Voice of the Customer
- Open Innovation
- Generative AI Technology
Each team underwent five rounds of judging, with evaluations centered on their working prototypes, customer focus, value proposition and marketing plan. It wasn't enough to create a new product or service; teams were required to build business plans, including financial estimates. While only four teams could win, many finalists that landed short of the podium missed the top score within just a hundredth of a point.
"It was important to ensure that we provided the teams participating in the Generative AI category with not only the latest cutting-edge Gen AI tools from Amazon, Microsoft, OpenAI and Google, but we made sure that we did it responsibly and in lockstep with our Cyber, Legal, and Privacy groups," said Brian Kursar, chief technology officer, TCNA.
Now that the event has concluded, Toyota organizations have begun looking at filing intellectual property patents and finding homes for many of the new ideas within various Toyota verticals. Some of the past years' hackathon ideas are already in production, including a cost-savings algorithm integrated into Toyota Logistics Services' business operations at the Port of Long Beach. In contrast, others are on their way to production, including one slated for an upcoming vehicle.
None of this would be possible without the dozens of volunteers and executives who planned the event over the past several months and worked from 6 a.m. until late into the evening each day of the hackathon to ensure its success.
Hackathons aren't a new concept, and Toyota isn't the only automaker doing them, either. What makes the SWARM Global Hackathon unique is its size, scale, and the possibility to truly make a difference within Toyota and for millions of drivers around North America and the world.