Exclusive Interview With The 2 Guys Who Just Won A $42,000 BMW i3 At Hack The Drive
“I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else.” — Pablo Picasso
In today’s story, the idea had became a $42,000 BMWi3 electric car. What a great idea!
Rajat Kumar and Tao Qian are two undergraduate students from DePauw University, Indiana. More than close friends, they are great partners. “We have known each other for almost four years. I’m a Mobile Software Engineer, while Tao is a Backend Engineer,” said Rajat. And yet, they both are passionate with connected cars. Therefore, while we all were still in the mood of the Holidays Season, the two guys had gathered and worked very hard in order to prepare for Hack The Drive, the world’s first BMW hackathon about connected cars that happened on January 9-11th, 2015 at the Navdy Office in San Francisco. Their team’s name is WeCharge.
WeCharge: We want to help with the issue of electric vehicle (EV) car charging stations being unavailable because someone’s fully charged car is still sitting there. Our app securely allows someone to have a ten minute limited access to your car so they can move it and park their own EV in that charging station. It is designed to work in closed environments such as offices where you might trust your colleagues with such a thing.
TechDrive: Sounds great! How did you know about Hack The Drive 2015? How long were you working on your idea beforehand?
WeCharge: We heard about Hack The Drive 2015 via a ChallengePost email. We came up with the idea midway through the hackathon after listening to the speakers from BMW and other sponsoring companies.
TechDrive: Very impressive! So what did you think of Hack The Drive 2015 in general (other teams, atmosphere, organization, etc) compared to other hackathons? Have you joined other hackathons before?
WeCharge: Hack The Drive is one of the most well-organized Hackathons we have been to. Additionally, the grand prize here was much grander than any previous hackathon we have attended. Various events like Mario Kart Tournament, organized during the Hackathon made the weekend more fun and less stressful. We have been to some other Hackathons including MHacks, LinkedIn Hacker Games and GreyLock HackFest in the past.
Rajat: I love BMWs. My dream car is an M6
Tao: I love biking. However, electric cars like i3 totally blow my mind. And I will probably drive more often after getting the i3.
TechDrive: I’m so glad you guys love electric cars. TechDrive loves electric car too. We have delivered many exciting news about electric vehicles as well as green transportation. Have you ever thought of working for an Automaker? BMW or Tesla for example.
Rajat: The thought hadn’t crossed my mind before, but after talking to so many people at BMW and learning about their culture I think I might consider it in the future.
Tao: I was amazed by the latest car technology shown at CES and would definitely consider a career in the auto industry.
TechDrive: That’s awesome! What do you think about Connected Cars? What is your favorite technology about connected cars?
WeCharge: I believe, the concept of connected cars is still limited to a micro level where your car connects to your phone, smart home and has some level of road assistance like auto stop, self park, etc. I am more fascinated by a future when this connectivity expands to a macro level where cars talk to other cars and help make the roads safer.
TechDrive: What is your team’s plan after Hack The Drive 2015? Will you guys continue with other ideas? What will you work on in the next months?
WeCharge: Yes, we definitely plan to pursue this idea after the hackathon as well. However, shipping things to a car is a much harder deal than doing so for a web service or a phone app, so we will be in touch with BMW to overcome the hardware and software challenges in our project. At the moment, it is just a proof of concept and a prototype at best.
TechDrive: Great! We will definitely follow your work. And a fun question for your team: Who will drive the BMW i3? Will you guys take turns?
WeCharge: Luckily for us, we live in the same apartment so it will be quite easy to take turns. We also own another (non-electric) BMW so now it’s a fun choice every morning.
TechDrive: Wow! It will be so much fun right? Thanks WeCharge team for the great interview and good luck with your next projects in the future. And thanks to Jim Perry for great pictures of Hack The Drive 2015. TechDrive’s fans can follow his Twitter @drivestv.