Innovations emerge from Britain’s best tech minds after 2-day ‘hackathon’ event to develop revolutionary ideas for HS2

Innovative ideas have emerged from a 2-day ‘innovation marathon’ which challenged Britain’s leading tech minds to come up with radical new ideas for how technologies such as wearable sensors, artificial intelligence and virtual reality might revolutionise key aspects of the HS2 rail project.

Over 100 high tech businesses, innovators, designers, coders, business strategists and students from all over the country took part in the 2-day ‘Hackathon’ event, organised by HS2 and the Transport Systems Catapult on 8th and 9thDecember. Rather than the building or delivery of the railway itself, teams were asked to come up with solutions to specific challenges related to staff wellbeing and safety, customer experience, maintenance operations and minimising impact on communities during construction.

17 teams pitched ideas to a ‘Dragon Den’ style panel of judges, who shortlisted six for further development prior to a final round, which will take place in February 2018. They included:

  • Using Virtual Reality models to train and enable staff to find and remedy problems which might cause slips, trips and falls in and around stations, trains and public areas.
  • Using train and track-mounted sensors to ‘read’ minute changes and the ‘Internet of Things’ to automatically dispatch drones or other technologies for further inspections or even repair.
  • Using facial recognition and artificial intelligence to detect and raise the alarm if employees are showing signs of fatigue or illness whilst working on the railway to improve health, wellbeing and safety
  • Using augmented reality to provide on-site engineers and a central control centre with critical maintenance record information, asset history and detailed guidance to reduce the cost and time needed for routine maintenance

The event was organised by HS2 Ltd and the Transport Systems Catapult (TSC).

New start-up companies, formed from Hackathon teams, and participating SMEs will be supported by the Transport Systems Catapult, which will facilitate collaboration across the supply chain.

Dr Iain Roche, Head of Innovation at HS2 Ltd said, “Myself and the other judges were hugely impressed with the ingenuity and variety of the ideas, and the sheer quality of innovation from all the teams taking part in the Hackathon. Since the time of Brunel, Britain has a fine tradition of developing cutting edge ideas in engineering. In delivering HS2 we are drawing from a diverse range of individuals and organisations to deliver improved capabilities from within our own sector, and critically from adjacent industries.  The outcome is the delivery of new standards in how we design, build and ultimately operate the railway.”

Transport Systems Catapult COO Mark Ruddy said, “The complex nature of the solutions and innovations to the challenges were really Impressive.  That they were created in just 30 hours by the 17 teams, with many of the teams working through the night, was truly inspiring. Intelligent Mobility is about taking the wider view of how technology and innovation can transform the traditional transport sector.  The shortlisted finalists in particular have demonstrated this novel thinking superbly.”

Find out more on the challenges below:

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