BMW brought 80 software developers and computer programmers together to tackle the themes of sustainability and electro-mobility in a hackathon last month. BMW hosted the Sustainability Hackathon to deal with a widespread problem – electric vehicles that get parked at charging stations – for example, during the workday – for extended periods of time beyond the few hours needed for charging.

One typical problem the coders were trying to solve was this: a driver shows up at a charge station needing just a few minutes of charging to reach his destination, but there's another car hooked up. The solution could be to anonymously contact the driver of the parked car to request permission to charge for a few minutes, and reconnect the original car upon completion. The winning apps in the contest would enable this sort of communication to more efficiently use charging stations. Fifteen apps for smartphones and mobile phones competed for first place in seven award categories. A total of $3,000 in prize money was awarded to the most practical, creative apps. The Hacker League page has a list of categories and winners.

The event, held April 27-29 at BMW's Technology Office in Mountain View, CA, was sponsored by BMW's car sharing subsidiary DriveNow and charging station network developer ChargePoint.

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