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Ford launches Hsuehshan Tunnel Transformer Challenge in Taiwan; Mobility Challenge Series 2.0

Building on the success of Ford’s Innovate Mobility Challenge Series (IMCS) 1.0 in 2014 (earlier post), Ford has launched the Hsuehshan Tunnel Transformer Challenge in Taiwan, which asks developers to submit traffic-busting solutions for the main highway artery between Taipei and popular tourist destination Yilan.

The Hsuehshan Tunnel Transformer Challenge will task developers with optimizing traffic between the Taipei metropolitan area—home to seven million residents—and Yilan, a popular tourist destination for weekend and holiday getaways. The most common route for cars and buses is Freeway 5, which can get highly congested during peak times. This is particularly true on the stretch between Nangang and Toucheng, where traffic can become severely backed up at Hsuehshan Tunnel.


Traffic congestion around the tunnel can increase travel time on Freeway 5 from 30 minutes to two hours or more. Alternative routes to Yilan include a winding shoreline highway or a mountain pass, both potentially dangerous cliff-side roads that take even longer.

As part of the challenge, Ford and the challenge cosponsor, the Institute for Information Industry of Taiwan, are providing resources to developers to help them find new ways to increase traffic efficiency. These include three months of historical weather and traffic XML data, plus a plethora of information about the Hsuehshan Tunnel, Freeway 5, and alternate routes.

Submissions for the Hsuehshan Tunnel Transformer Challenge run from 2 September through 19 November.

IMCS 2.0. In addition to Taiwan, Ford has introduced new challenges throughout 2015 in Australia, Brazil and Mexico as part of Innovate Mobility Challenge Series 2.0. IMCS is a series that invites developers from around the world to tackle mobility issues by providing solutions to meet the unique needs of different communities.

Brazil’s mobility challenge launched in June and tasks software and app developers with creating smart ways to integrate private and public transportation options to decrease traffic in South America’s largest metropolis, São Paulo. Ford is looking for innovative software solutions that will help make life more convenient for the 19 million residents of the greater metropolitan area.

The São Paulo challenge accepted submissions from Brazilians, as well as from global applicants, with two prize pools of R$59,000 and US$20,000, respectively. Submissions to the challenges closed on 8 September and are now in the judging phase.

The Mexico City Mobility Challenge launched in August and is looking for solutions that mitigate traffic congestion by effectively increasing vehicle occupancy to contribute to a more pleasant and safe commute in the Mexican capital.

According to statistics from the national environment department (SEDEMA), more than 4 million vehicles make around 22 million trips every day, contributing to inefficiency and congestion in the city of more than 20 million. The Mexico City challenge is taking submissions until 3 November, and has a total of US$30,000 in prize money.

The Australia Accessory Challenge launched in May with a submission deadline of 14 June, and asked for solutions that use apps and accessories to enhance the driving experience for vehicles traveling in the Australian Outback. The challenge awarded US$15,000 to the winners, with US$10,000 for the first place winner and US$2,500 each for second and third place.

  • First place: The winning solution, submitted by Maurice Lenssen, proposes using Ford’s SYNC system or a mobile device to give drivers access to relevant information while traveling in the Outback, which could help resolve unanticipated issues and reduce the risk of getting lost. The system would present the information on SYNC’s screen or a mobile device linked to the vehicle’s OBD connector, and would include things like vehicle range, as well as the distance to the nearest mobile reception area, fuel station, major highway and other points of interest.

  • Second place: The second place solution, submitted by Richard Kulesh, suggests integrating sensor technologies already available on vehicles—for example, the radar technology used in Ford’s Adaptive Cruise Control—to help mitigate collisions by calculating data like obstacle height, vehicle speed and predicted course. The system could potentially reduce the risk of damaging crucial vehicle components by providing driver alerts or actively engaging brake support or steering input to stop or maneuver the vehicle before impact.

  • Third place: Adam Smith submitted a proposed accessory solution that could help ensure a supply of clean drinking water for extended trips in the Outback. The accessory concept aims to capture condensation generated by the vehicle’s air conditioning system and sterilize it to generate clean drinking water. The system would also use a solar panel charging system to make it self-contained and more efficient.

IMCS 2.0 is part of Ford Smart Mobility, a global initiative to use smart solutions and innovative technology to take the company to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the consumer experience and big data and analytics.

Ford Smart Mobility addresses four global megatrends—a growing urban population; an expanding middle class; air quality and public health concerns; and changing customer attitudes and priorities—that are challenging today’s transportation models and redefining personal mobility.

IMCS 2.0 follows the first set of 10 global challenges, which were held throughout 2014 in Africa, the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe. Ford announced the winners of IMCS 1.0 in January. Winning solutions included the use of smart apps to share weather, traffic and parking data in real time, pioneering approaches to multi-modal transportation, and the use of navigation and other tools to help people gain access to medical care in remote areas.


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