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Ford, UMTRI launch student contest for vehicle-to-vehicle communications innovation

Ford and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) are partnering on a competition for undergraduate students to develop innovative applications that enhance vehicle safety and sustainability by using vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications. The competition is hosted by UMTRI.

Multidisciplinary teams of students will be encouraged to develop new and innovative applications that benefit all road users and all forms of transit; cars, commercial vehicles, transit buses, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians. The competition runs concurrently with the $25-million Safety Pilot Model Deployment in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is studying wireless communications among vehicles and roadside equipment (V2X) (earlier post) for use in developing future safety measures and technologies. Nearly 3,000 vehicles will participate in the test, which will evaluate this technology in real-world conditions.

The competition encourages the development of new mobile applications on the connected vehicle platform that we hope will generate creative thinking about how to grow the potential for V2V technologies in the future. This research is pivotal to the delivery of the next generation of Ford driver assistance technologies and will globally benefit Ford customers, other road users and the environment.

—Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technology officer and vice president of research and innovation

By participating in field trials of connected vehicles in the US and around Europe, by internal research and by activities such as the University of Michigan student competition, Ford is developing new applications and features that will allow future customers to drive more safely and have better information to reduce their travel times and their fuel consumption.

While connected technology has been fundamentally aimed at safety, it presents a platform for many other applications from mobility to the environment; from emissions and energy efficiency to the economy. We are confident that the greatest innovation will come from students who have essentially grown up using technology. They see connected technology and automatically think how it can be used to make the greatest impact. This is a chance for them to be part of the future of transportation.

— Peter Sweatman, director UMTRI

Ford has fully equipped eight Taurus SHO vehicles with integrated V2V and data acquisition systems for this year-long test. Automotive supplier Denso is also providing support for the competition.

The challenge. Multidisciplinary teams of students are challenged to advance dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) through the development of new and innovative applications that benefit road users in the areas of safety, mobility and sustainability. The teams are not limited to personal cars or trucks. Rather, they are encouraged to include the full spectrum of road users including commercial vehicles, transit buses, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians.

Backgrounds in electrical, mechanical and computer engineering are important, but interdisciplinary teams will be required to develop holistic applications.

The winning team’s project must be innovative, operate reliably and effectively during judging, and be user-oriented to have a strong potential for making a positive impact or modulating user behavior.

Teams will be provided access to UMTRI’s V2V lab for the duration of the project, as well as a UMTRI and industry research mentors. Two two-way DSRC devices, including antennas and cabling, will be supplied to each team, as will protocol and installation documentation for the devices. Teams will be given appropriate access to one or more vehicles on which devices can be installed and a stipend of up to $2,500 to offset additional costs.

Idea submissions are due December 1. Ford will participate in the judging for the competition, with the award announcements in late April.

The winning team earns $5,000, while second place receives $2,500 and third place gets $1,250. At least one award will recognize modes other than passenger vehicles.


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