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Ford, University of Michigan 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 communications
  • Multidisciplinary teams of students from across the Midwest 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
  • This fall, the UMTRI and the U.S. Department of Transportation launched a year-long program that establishes a real world test site in Ann Arbor, Mich. to enable wireless communications among vehicles and roadside equipment for use in developing future safety measures and technologies, including vehicles equipped by Ford and other automobile manufacturers
DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. Nov. 7, 2012 – Ford and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) are offering undergraduate college students a chance to contribute to the future of Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communications.
Students will have the opportunity to innovate for safety and sustainability using vehicle communications technology that allows vehicles to talk to each other wirelessly. The competition is hosted by UMTRI.
“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,” said Paul Mascarenas, the chief technology officer at Ford and vice president of research and innovation for the automaker. “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.”
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,” said Peter Sweatman, director UMTRI. “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.” 
The competition runs concurrently with Safety Pilot Model Deployment, the $25-million pilot that establishes a real world test site in Ann Arbor, Mich. to study wireless communications among vehicles and roadside equipment 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. 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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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 172,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit
About the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
UMTRI is committed to advancing safe and sustainable transportation for a global society. Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the heart of the transportation industry, UMTRI partners with government and industry and draws on scholarly collaborations to deliver high-quality research and the deployment of solutions to critical transportation issues. For more information about UMTRI, its research facilities, faculty and staff, ongoing research and collaborative opportunities, please visit: