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design lab ucsd mit mobility

City Robotics: A Design•a•Hack•a•thon for People-Centric Mobility

Saturday, September 15, 2018 – Monday, September 17, 2018
MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, MA
Image Copyright: Tomi Um / MIT Technology Review

Register now!
— For more information, contact Margaret Church (MIT Media Lab), or Colleen Emmenegger (UC San Diego Design Lab)

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 jointly 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 the MIT 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

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, Toshiba, Hyundai, IDEO, Huawei, BCG  Piaggio Fast Forward, Publicis, NHK, Nomura Research, Toppan, NTT Data, Yokogawa Electronics & Steelcase

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


  • 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 trustingproductive and sustainable relationships?  How can the 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 Sept. 3):


  • 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


Saturday and Sunday  (9/15-16)  8am – 11pm

Monday (9/17)  8am – 9pm

Detailed schedule to be announced shortly


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


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


To be announced shortly


The UC San Diego Design Lab is a center for interdisciplinary design focused on providing research, education, and community interaction. The Design Lab focuses upon complex sociotechnical issues in such areas as mobility, education, activity-based visualization, healthcare, and social computing. Although the Design Lab is new, members of the Design Lab helped introduce the fundamental concepts of user-centered system design (through a book with that title—UCSD) in 1987, which today is called human-centered design. Today, the Design Lab is developing a new philosophy: variously called democratizing design, bottom-up design, or community-driven design, moving away from external experts who tell people and communities what they should be doing, and instead, working with creative people in communities to help them develop and communicate their ideas.

MIT Media Lab transcends known boundaries and disciplines by actively promoting a unique, antidisciplinary culture that emboldens unconventional mixing and matching of seemingly disparate research areas. The Lab creates disruptive technologies that happen at the edges, pioneering such areas as wearable computing, tangible interfaces, and affective computing. The City Science group proposes that new strategies must be found for creating the places where people live and work, and the mobility systems that connect them, in order to meet the profound challenges of the future.

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