It wasn’t long ago the idea of a connected car was only a glimpse of the future. We couldn’t connect our phones to our cars, stream music, or push a button and get directions. Today, connected cars are a reality, but there are still challenges. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) aims to find solutions through the Connected Vehicle Challenge.
This is the second year of the contest which is a part of SAE International’s World Congress Experience happening in Detroit from April 9-11. The conference also includes speakers, technical sessions, and roundtable discussions all focused on figuring out the future of mobility.
The WCX Connected Vehicle Challenge asks participants to come up with a connected vehicle device or system that will improve our quality of life. They devise a wide range of solutions that tackle a variety of problems and get a chance at a $10,000 first place award.
“The range of proposal topics are often indicative of the state of the automotive industry and address the most critical issues. For example, we’ve seen proposals for solutions to address pedestrian safety, including people with disabilities, driver distractions and solutions for testing of autonomous vehicles,” said Joe Barkai, Chairman of the Connected Vehicle Challenge.
SAE wants to see unique ideas, but they also need to be practical. “We welcome all options, but participants should can keep in mind the judging criteria, one of which is the ability to productize or bring the solution to market,” said Barkai.
The entrants themselves are as diverse as their ideas. There are both individuals and teams from universities to start-ups. The goal is to encourage innovation wherever it comes from and to give those who might not have the ready resources a chance to make their concepts a reality.
According to Barkai, “The competition brings engineering students, teams of students and professors, lawyers and startups in their infancy stage. In efforts to encourage outside industry innovation and to fill the workforce pipeline with new skilled talent, SAE International invites all talents and backgrounds to bring their ideas to advance an industry that has been stagnant for years.”
The hope is the winners will use the award money to continue development of their ideas. “Winners can use the prize to develop prototypes, apply for patents, pay for schooling or perhaps even use it to travel to demonstrate their ideas to professional buyers,” said Barkai.
Although the $10,000 prize is what everyone is hoping to win, even those who don’t win have plenty to gain from the process. “Finalists present their solutions to a panel of judges from established OEMs, suppliers and even startup companies who may want to invest in the idea and who also will work to find the participant a guiding mentor. These mentors may offer advice, connect them with beneficial stakeholders or provide them with resources they need to advance their solution.”
The Connected Vehicle Challenge serves not just to award a single winner, but to provide the contacts and encouragement innovators need to develop the connected technologies of the future.