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Khalifa University Student Team win UAE Hackathon Grand Challenge for Professional Bus Idea  

A team of students from Khalifa University have won two of the ten challenges at this year’s UAE Hackathon 3.0 – Data for Happiness and Wellbeing competition. The students won the Grand Challenge and the WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) Challenge for their innovative solution called “Hafla” – a type of professional bus aimed at transporting professionals to work in a comfortable and efficient way, while also letting them login to work as soon as they get on.

The innovative ride-sharing solution aims to reduce road congestion and traffic, and in turn increase happiness and wellbeing. As a winner, the team will now undergo three months of a training camp, provided by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), where they will further develop their winning idea. The team will also represent the UAE in Expo 2020 as well as in the World Summit at Switzerland.

“Traffic congestion is one of the most prevalent problems in our country, which negatively affects many areas, including the happiness index. This is confirmed by what His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum stated at the World Government Summit 2019, that the average time taken by an employee from home to the workplace ranges between 60 – 120 minutes, which in turn causes a low level of happiness and productivity of employees,” explained Fatima Alhammadi, recent BSc in Industrial and Systems Engineering graduate.

Alhammadi’s team members include rising seniors Salama Almansoori and Zamzam Alhammadi, also from the Industrial and Systems Engineering program, and Maitha Alhajeri and Alyazyah Alhefeti, from the Biomedical Engineering program.

The ‘professional bus’ addresses the issue of increasing road congestion by reducing the number of cars on the road in a way that focuses on professionalism and on raising the happiness of employees at the same time.

“Our idea is based on the employers providing innovative, customized, integrated and qualified buses with all the needs to transport their employees from their homes to the workplace. This will contribute to reducing the area of ​​parking spaces designated for this category in the country, which constitutes a large part of the area that can be used for more investments and greater sustainability, such as construction, farms, factories and many others, and this bus will help to reduce carbon emissions by a large percentage,” Alhammadi shared.

When designing their professional bus, the KU team surveyed over ten employees, asking them why they don’t use buses. Using this data, they then investigated the best characteristics that they believed would make buses more appealing to employees. Considerations like a higher level of privacy and a greater feeling of luxury were found to be important.

“Our bus will embrace innovative features that allow the employee to register his fingerprint as he enters the bus and start his morning work on the professional bus. On the bus, employees will sit in the most luxurious seats with a moving desk in front of them, allowing them to work comfortably. The bus will be equipped with internet, coffee and other treats to make the ride enjoyable,” Alhammadi said.

Now, the team will undergo three months of training camp, where they will further refine their professional bus idea into a commercially-viable product with the support and guidance from TRA and its UAE Hackathon partners. The training will conclude with a final meeting in which the team will pitch their project to a committee of investors, entrepreneurs, and business incubators.

 A second team of students from KU, Team Shams, also won first place in the Abu Dhabi competition of the UAE Hackathon 3.0 event, for an app they developed that monitors and tracks a fleet of solar smart cars that users can book.

Khalifa University students are encouraged to seek creative solutions to complex, 21st century problems. With two student teams from KU among the winners of this year’s UAE Hackathon – which saw a total of 350 teams compete across the county –  Khalifa University is supporting the development of young professionals capable of furnishing the innovative solutions and smart ideas needed to raise happiness levels of the many communities within the UAE, and achieve the country’s knowledge-economy transformation goals.

Erica Solomon
Senior Editor
20 July 2020