City Robotics: $10K Design•a•Hack•a•thon for People-Centric Mobility

mixed media

Saturday — Monday
September 15, 2018 —
September 17, 2018
9:00am — 11:00pm ET

Recent advancements in autonomous and intelligent machines introduce an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine how people live, work, and play. Mobility—personal or shared,  passenger-use or goods-moving—can be designed to prioritize the human experience, enhancing people’s abilities to lead creative, productive, gratifying and sustainable lives.

Don Norman and Colleen Emmenegger of the UC San Diego Design Lab and Kent Larson of the MIT Media Lab bring together leading scientists, engineers, designers, and policymakers from across the public and private sectors to address emerging challenges in urban mobility and to explore new directions for potential futures.  During the event, a  3-day Design•a•Hack•a•thon will be organized for MIT and its extended community.

PRIZES    💰💰💰   ✚   🍎⌚️

  • $10,000 cash prize: to be awarded to four teams at $2,500 each
  • 10 x Apple Watch 4:  to be awarded one watch per person to two teams



Tomi Um

Day 1   |  Design Observation and  Problem Exploration  (Saturday 9/15)

Designathons bring together designers, engineers, and storytellers to address complex challenges and envision new scenarios and futures. Designathons enable rapid, condensed forms of HCD (human-centered design), which focuses on addressing the needs and core issues of the people for whom a design is intended. This is achieved through insight, empathy, observation and inclusion, followed by rapid stages of ideation and simple prototypes to ensure the correct problem is addressed. Designathons are intended to serve as the starting point for hackathons; the combination produces a rapid demonstration of a product, service, or policy that fits the real needs of real people in real-world situations

Day 2   |  Rapid Prototyping  (Sunday 9/16)

Building on top of insights and inspirations of Day 1, participating teams bring to life their ideas in forms of visual, animated or interactive prototypes, using their preferred medium, tools and components.

Day 3   |  Expert Input,  Iteration, and Pitch  (Monday 9/17)

In the morning, participating teams share their stories and prototypes to delegates from leading private and public sector organizations for feedback.  Using those inputs, teams further refine their proposed solutions for the final judging in the early evening.  

Private Sector:  DENSO, Ford, Bose, PMP, Dentsu, Toshiba Memory Corporation, Hyundai, IDEO, Huawei, BCG,  Piaggio Fast Forward, Publicis, NHK, Nomura Research, Toppan, NTT Data, Yokogawa Electronics, and  Steelcase

Public Sector and Non-profit:  LEGO Foundation, Boston Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics, City of Cambridge,  Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Department of Transportation (DOT)


  • Life Mobility:  How might we make active mobility—walking, cycling, skateboarding, scooting, ferrying, etc.—a universally awesome experience?  How might new forms of active mobility enable new ways of travel in the city, for not just individuals, but also for lovers and families, and people of all abilities, needs, and incomes?
  • Socially Intelligent Robots:  How might we make machines socially and sensorially empathetic to enhance the wellbeing of people and to enable more trusting, productive, and sustainable relationships? How can machines better interact with people on the move—riders, pedestrians, cyclists, etc.?
  • The New Street:  How might we reimagine streets and urban infrastructures in response to emerging challenges associated with new technology and changing modes of consumption and production?  How might we facilitate sustainable community development while prioritizing the human experience?


  • $10,000 Cash Prize: to be awarded to four teams at $2,500 each
  • 10 x Apple Watch 4:  to be awarded one watch per person to two teams


  • Students: MIT students will be given priority, but all interested students are encouraged to apply
  • Representatives of Media Lab member organizations

📋  RSVP  (by September 10)



  • Don Norman - Principal Investigator of UCSD Design Lab
  • Colleen Emmenegger - Director of UCSD Design Lab
  • Kent Larson - Principal Investigator of City Science,  MIT Media Lab
  • Ifushi Shimonomoto  - General Manager of R&D, DENSO Japan
  • Nigel Jacobs - Co-Chair of Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics, Boston


  • Problem Evidence: a clear description of the problem: observed evidence of existing ones  (e.g. image, video clip, etc.) or forecasted based on social and technological development trends
  • Prototype: a visual, animated or interactive prototype as a proof of concept; or documentation of attempted solutions—and iterations—aimed at addressing the identified issue
  • Solution Testing: a final rapid test and evaluation of the idea on people who are as close to the intended target as possible, and none of whom were associated with the project.  Note that value is placed on the test itself: whether the result supported, contradicted, or were ambiguous with respect to the problem solution is not important. Gathering of evidence in as realistic a test as the time constraints allow is of the highest importance.
  • Story: a kickass, compelling story that anchors the proposed solution to real-world needs of the present or the future



8:30 - Breakfast
9:00 - Presentations and designa.hack.a.thon structure
10:00 - Ideas and Interests  -give a 30 second overview of your interests and ideas 
10:20 - Team Formation
11:30 - Field Study and Bag Lunch   /  Mentor Meeting
1:30 - Show and Tell
2:30 - Building Starts
5:30 - Dinner  /  Mentor Meeting
9:00 - Pizza & Music 
10:30 - Day 1 Wrap-Up

8:30 - Breakfast
9-10:00   Mid-Review Presentation  (5 min per team)
12:00 - Lunch
5:30 - Dinner
11:10 - Day 2 Wrap-Up

8:30 - Breakfast
10:30 - Final Proposal Preview & Feedback Session (with corporate representatives)
12:00 - Lunch
3:30 - Presentation & Judging
5:00- Awards
5:30 - Reception


While the participants are encouraged to used the tools and materials of their choice, the organizing team will provide a limited quantity of components.


Data Sets & Softwarehttp://bit.ly/urbanhackresources


Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be provided throughout the event.



DENSO, PMP, Toshiba Memory, Huawei


Kent Larson, MIT Media Lab
Don Norman, The Design Lab at UCSD
Colleen Emmenegger, The Design Lab at UCSD
Maggie Church, MIT Media Lab
Phil Tinn, MIT Media Lab
Stephanie Sherman, The Design Lab at UCSD
Mirei Rioux, MIT Media Lab
Raber Umphenour, Filmmaker
Ari Adler, IDEO
Ariel Noyman, MIT Media Lab
Guadalupe Babio, MIT Media Lab
Gabriela Bila, MIT Media Lab
Maitane Iruretagoyena, MIT Media Lab
Arnaud Grignard, MIT Media Lab


Michele Morris, The Design Lab at UCSD
Arnaud Grignard, MIT Media Lab
Ariel Noyman, MIT Media Lab 
Jennifer Taylor, The Design Lab at UCSD
Narges Mahyar, University of Massachusetts
Thomas Sanchez-Lengling, MIT Media Lab
Ronan Doorley, MIT Media Lab
Sotirious Kotsopoulos, MIT Media Lab
Suleiman Alhadidi, MIT Media Lab
Carson Smuts, MIT Media Lab
Michael Lin, MIT Media Lab
Nina Baker, The Design Lab at UCSD
Markus ElKatsha, MIT Media Lab

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