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Our Experience of Participating in and Winning the #ToyotaSWARM Toyota Global Hackathon 2023

Imagine spending 72 hours building solutions that could transform the car driving experience worldwide.

Imagine being grilled by judges with questions and working till midnight to incorporate their suggestions.

Imagine your seniors cheering and supporting you throughout to see you succeed. 

No, we aren’t sharing our experience preparing for exams or a college project. This was our experience of participating in the recently concluded Toyota Swarm hackathon.

What Is Toyota Swarm?

Toyota Swarm is a global hackathon held by Toyota annually to create new, innovative products that can make a difference to their customers. They have been conducting these hackathons since 2019, which have become bigger and better every year. This year was the fourth edition of the hackathon.

Over 65 teams from four continents participated in the 72-hour hackathon this year to build solutions that could influence the software development for today’s Toyota and Lexus vehicles and their cockpits. This year’s hackathon was even more special as the teams had to use generative AI tools to develop solutions.

The focus was to solve these four challenges:

  • Initial Quality (IQS) and Voice of the Customer
  • Open Innovation
  • Generative AI Technology
  • Cybersecurity

Each team went through five judging rounds. The teams were judged on working prototypes, customer focus, value proposition, and marketing plan. Besides creating a new product or service, the teams also had to build business plans and give financial estimates.

After a few grueling rounds, Toyota shortlisted seven out of 65 teams for the finals. Two of them were from Ascentt. 

We are proud to announce that one of the two shortlisted teams won the hackathon in the generative AI category. 

How Did We Win? 

26 of Ascentt associates participated in the hackathon. They were spread across seven teams and had to work around the clock to build solutions in Generative AI, Innovation, Voice of Customer, and Smart Manufacturing categories. They had to demonstrate unparalleled business value to the judges. 

One of our teams, the GearPal AI, won in the Generative AI category for building a generative AI solution for Toyota’s manufacturing maintenance teams. The team comprised Braden Burford, Alan Jacob, Muzammil Abdul Rahim, Apurva Joshi, and Dinesh Sajnani. 

There were two reasons behind the GearPal AI’s win:

  1. The individual and collaborative efforts

Besides the AI capabilities, the strong work ethic and technical prowess helped the GearPal AI team win the hackathon. Despite several years of experience, each team member was excited and eager to learn from each other. They were willing to spend long, grueling hours finding ways to help Toyota’s maintenance teams use Generative AI. Each shared a passion for technology and went above and beyond what was expected to contribute to the team’s success. All the teams, including GearPal AI, were motivated and invested their efforts into building solutions and solving problems, regardless of the outcome. 

Here’s what Nilesh Vyas, the CEO and Founder at Ascentt, had to say about the collaboration between the winning team members.

“It was an amazing experience to witness the creative energies and startup spirits in the hallways at Toyota HQ these past three days. From judges grilling contestants during judging rounds and returning back late evenings to suggest improvements, to senior executives parading in the hallways at midnight to cheer up those last-minute tweaks, it was an unforgettable experience for our teams!”

Ravi Chandu Ummadisetti, the Senior Data Scientist at Ascentt and a participant in the Hackathon, added, “We left an indelible mark, pushing boundaries and setting new benchmarks in AI-driven solutions. The camaraderie and shared passion for technology were truly inspiring, and I’ve gained invaluable insights from every single teammate.”

  1. Innovation and Ascentt’s support

The second secret behind the win was the unwavering support from the senior leaders of Toyota and Ascentt and our team’s constant endeavor to innovate.

Innovation is in the DNA of every individual working at Ascentt. We have built multiple data science and connected car solutions for the automotive industry. The GearPal AI team combined its rich experience and knowledge in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytics to build a generative AI solution for manufacturing maintenance.

The senior leaders of Ascentt and Toyota were also there to cheer and mentor the teams throughout the three years. 

Here’s what Ravi Chandu Ummadisetti had to say about the role of the leaders and mentors in the journey.

“I wanted to express my heartfelt gratitude to Brian Kursar, Vijay Chemuturi, Jason Ballard, Kamal Distell, Melody Ayeli, Larry Smith, GK Senthil, Rajesh V Emani, and Koteswar Rangaraju for their invaluable support and guidance throughout the hackathon. As leaders at Toyota, their mentorship played a pivotal role in helping us compete at the highest level. Their expertise and encouragement were instrumental in our journey towards excellence.

I also want to extend my sincere thanks to all the leaders at Ascentt for their unwavering support and constant encouragement throughout our journey. Their presence and belief in us propelled us forward, inspiring us to aim for the finals. A special shoutout to Nilesh Vyas and Shailesh Shedge for their exceptional guidance and motivation.”

What’s Next for Ascentt?

The hackathon was a good opportunity for our teams to put their skills to test and demonstrate them on a global platform. 

 While Toyota plans to patent ideas and implement them within their sectors, our aim is to leverage the lessons learned during the hackathon to innovate and transform the automotive industry.

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