DEARBORN, MI – Ford Motor Co. 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.”

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 fuel consumption. The company is furthering these goals through internal research, participation in field trials of connected vehicles in the U.S. and around Europe, and activities such as the University of Michigan student competition.

“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. Multidisciplinary teams of students are challenged to advance dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) through development of 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, Ford said.

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 changing user behavior. Teams will be provided access to UMTRI’s V2V lab for the duration of the project, as well as access to UMTRI and industry research mentors.

Two two-way DSRC devices, including antennas and cabling, will be supplied to each team, along with protocol and installation documentation for the devices. Teams will be given appropriate access to one or more vehicles, on which devices can be installed. A stipend of up to $2,500 will offset additional costs.

Idea submissions are due Dec. 1. Ford will participate in the judging for the competition, with the award announcements scheduled for late April. The winning team will win $5,000. The second-place team will receive $2,500 and the third-place team will get $1,250. At least one award will recognize modes other than passenger vehicles.