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Ocado Technology sponsors IC Hack 18

Ocado Technology sponsors IC Hack 18

Last week we attended IC Hack 18, the 24-hour hackathon hosted annually by Imperial College in London. The event has now been running for seven consecutive years and this year was more in demand than ever, with tickets selling out in just six seconds! As gold sponsors of the event, we asked our most talented data scientists to present an Ocado Technology-branded challenge, run a workshop, and most importantly support the hackers throughout the weekend.

Hackathons are a great way to put students’ skills to the test, and really get everyone engaged with creating out-of-the-box solutions.

Here’s a preview of how the final day went:

 

The Ocado Technology data science team designed a challenge based on a real world problem: finding an optimal way to route delivery vans given a number of destinations. This was a simplified version of Ocado’s routing problem (read more on our blog) where teams were required to optimise their routing algorithm in order to minimise cost. There was no limit on the number of vans a team could use or the distance they could travel, but each van had an associated cost of £100 and every kilometer traveled would set them back a further 6.1p.

This problem is incredibly challenging, but the teams did not disappoint. Considering the challenge’s technically stretching nature, we saw some amazing results! Routing a delivery fleet efficiently is a common problem faced by thousands of companies around the world. At Ocado Technology, we continuously work on optimising our solution in order to increase the efficiency of Ocado’s day to day operations; reducing our environmental impact and offering our customers more one-hour delivery slots.

The problem is an NP hard optimisation problem, which is a bit of a buzz-word meaning that the task cannot be easily solved optimally by computers. Framing it like this provided a draw to contestants and was listed as the reason the winners chose our problem.

We decided this particular challenge would be a great way to give the students a taste of how software development skills can be applied in a real world setting.

We would like to congratulate our challenge winners Anirudh and Varun, and runners up Will and Trenton, who all demonstrated incredible problem solving skills and a great attitude towards collaboration.

Events like these are a great opportunity to promote innovation and challenge the brightest and best. We were really amazed by the talent exhibited at IC Hack 18 and thoroughly enjoyed our role as sponsors.

Holly Godwin, Technology Communications Assistant

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