Three UWaterloo students have returned from France with a prize of 10,000 euros in their back pockets, thanks to an invention that helps vehicles communicate with each other to enhance passenger safety.
“Three VeMAColleagues” is a team of PhD Students, Sailesh Bharati, Ning Lu, and recent PhD grad, Hassan Aboubakr Omar of the Electrical and Computer Engineering program won second place in the Valeo Innovation Challenge for their vehicle-to-vehicle networking protocol. This program, called VeMAC, can make cars safer using wireless communication among vehicles nearby each other, or roadside units.
Before the challenge, the students had only tested VeMAC using computer simulators and mathematical analysis. The Valeo Innovation Challenge gave them the important opportunity to test it using real experiments. They were motivated by the chance to deliver the idea of VeMAC to a well-known automotive supplier like Valeo -- and the first place prize money of 10,000 euros didn’t hurt either.
After submitting their idea, they were selected among the top 20 teams of 969 submitted projects from around 450 universities and 55 different countries. These teams were given 5,000 euros to advance to the prototyping phase of the contest. After months of working hard on creating and testing the protocol, writing reports and preparing a mock-up presentation, they were selected among the seven finalists. The finalists travelled to Paris to present their projects to the contest jury, consisting of scientists, astronauts, economists, and Valeo board members.
The challenge allowed us to bring our ideas from the technical papers to the real world implementation. We were very glad to feel that a big industrial organization like Valeo is interested in and supporting our innovation. Although we didn't win the first prize, we are all happy and convinced that we have done our best. -Hassan Omar
Supervisors Prof. Weihua Zhuang and Prof. Sherman Shen supported the students throughout the project. The professors were influential in the team’s technical writing skills, dedication to their work and helping them make the realization that they would need to work very hard in order to succeed and benefit from the challenge.