This project was conceptualized and won first place at the RBC Next Generation Innovation Hackathon.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 global goals that encourage social, economic, and environmental sustainability. As RBC pursues a number of initiatives to contribute to a more sustainable future, the company challenged competitors to leverage big data to build a technology-focused solution that empowers youth to make environmental change.
Out of the aforementioned 17 goals, we chose to target climate action and particularly the release of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. We targeted the transportation sector as it made up 28% of the total emissions released in Canada, and focused specifically on the use of personal gas-powered vehicles. We believe there is a gap in the young driver's curriculum on the advantages of choosing electric cars, as well as sustainable driving practices.
This is where DriveGreen comes in. Its goals are to leverage its capabilities as a VR electric car driving simulator to educate and empower youth to drive sustainably, whether it is through opting to using an electric car or by adhering to driving metrics that reduce fuel usage, and in turn, carbon emissions.
What it does
DriveGreen educates users on sustainable driving in two different ways. It simulates the driving conditions of an electric car, such as instant acceleration, and also promotes the usage of electric cars by strategically reminding the user of their advantages during the simulation, such as their economical maintenance fees. The program also displays information on driving sustainably regardless of the model of car, such as turning off the air conditioning unless needed and driving at steady speeds to increase fuel efficiency.
This simulation would be integrated into the Ontario G2 license exam in partnership with ServiceOntario to ensure that every new driver is aware of the importance of sustainable driving and the positive impact of electric compared to gas-powered cars.
How we built it
The prototype for this simulation had to be assembled in under six hours. Our team used Unity to generate the basic framework of the track, and wrote C# code to determine the behaviour of the car upon user input. We also created a website using HTML/CSS in conjunction with the simulator to introduce our product during the pitch.
Challenges we ran into
DriveGreen's initial pitch was a voice-activated route-finding plugin on Google Maps to help users travel from place to place with preplanned stops at charging ports to keep the car batteries alive. However, youth drivers likely did not have access to electric cars unless purchased by a family member and would not benefit from an application that was usable to electric car drivers only. Therefore, we opted to scale down our project to something of an educational purpose during the phase where young drivers are earning their driving licenses, and came up with the idea of a electric car driving simulator that also serves as an information hub for sustainable driving.
One of the challenges we encountered during the synthesis of DriveGreen was our unfamiliarity with the Unity software. However, with the help of online tutorials as well as in-person mentors, we learned to integrate the software into our solution and created the simulation. Ultimately, we did not have the chance to integrate elements of DriveGreen beyond the minimum viable product, such as dynamic driving course transformation in response to user performance, due to the 6 hour time constraint.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
DriveGreen won first place prize and a $10,000 award at the RBC hackathon for its innovation in the technology and policy sector.
What's next for DriveGreen
DriveGreen aims to not only be an educational tool in sustainable driving, it can also be used as a training module for young drivers to drive with better safety practices. Using artificial intelligence models to determine how the user was driving compared to the ideal standards, and remembering the user's mistakes, are two essential components of DriveGreen 2.0 that will elevate the effectiveness of the software.