There are thousands of tech developers out there, trying to make driving more fun, more efficient, and less frustrating. Apps like DriveSafe.ly, Parking In Motion, and Waze are the fruits of their labor.
But there are just as many folks with great ideas for improving the roadways who don't have the connections or coding skills to put their thoughts into apps. Thankfully, the Department of Transportation has launched a contest just for them: the Connected Vehicle Tech Challenge.
The Challenge hinges on the use of technology called dedicated short range communications, or DSRC. You can think of DSRC like wifi -- or, if you're a little more advanced, like a souped-up version of near-field communication (which is, of course, the next big thing). DSRC enables communication between devices that are within about 1,000 yards of one another, so it's powerful enough to have some interesting applications for drivers, particularly in congested urban areas. The devices in question could be cars, smartphones, traffic signals, emergency vehicles, big rigs -- anything. As the DOT suggests on the contest website, DSRC could be used to:
- Tell you where to find available parking spaces
- Help you make your bus or train connection on time
- Notify you when an available cab is nearby
- Cut pollution by reducing emissions as your car approaches a red light
The possibilities are nearly endless.
Best of all: you don't have to understand all the technical details of DSRC to enter the contest, you only need to have a solid idea and explain it well. Just prepare a detailed description of your concept and how it might be used (no more than 6000 words, and it can be far less); add a video, if you like; and upload your submission through the Connected Vehicle Challenge website.
A panel of judges will evaluate entrants, and six will be selected to attend the 2011 Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress in Orlando this October. The six will be honored at a special session, and they'll have the opportunity to share their ideas with experts, business people, and -- best of all -- potential investors.
The DOT will accept submissions through May 1. Check the Connected Vehicle Tech Challenge website for additional details -- and good luck!