Smart cars vs dumb roads hackathon

Back at the beginning of the summer ICE received an invitation from London Southbank University to design and run a one day hackathon for final year civil engineering and IT students. Having duly accepted, we chose to base the hackathon around the ‘smart cars vs dumb roads’ dilemma.

Smart Highway Glowing Lines in Oss (The Netherlands). Students examined a range of emerging technologies to deliver
Smart Highway Glowing Lines in Oss (The Netherlands). Students examined a range of emerging technologies to deliver 'smart' roads. Picture by Daan Roosegaarde
  • Updated: 09 August 2016
  • Author: Ben Goodwin, ICE Policy Manager

The dilemma

Smarter vehicles that could bring multiple safety, lifestyle, journey and environmental benefits are entering the automotive market. But to get the most out of them will require agile highways networks that are better able to adapt and respond to the introduction of autonomous vehicles and other innovative technologies.

The task

Over the course of the day five teams of students were asked to identify solutions for making highways networks smarter in design and operation. In developing their ideas and putting a project case together each team was encouraged to consider the benefits, risks, challenges and uncertainties associated with deploying new technologies across UK roads.

Ben Goodwin with students
ICE Policy Manager, Ben Goodwin, worked with students to identify ways to make our roads 'smart'

After some interesting brainstorming sessions, some pitch polishing and a lot of pizza the students were asked to present their ideas to an esteemed panel of judges, including ICE Thought Leadership Sponsor Ross Agnew (KPMG) and Suzanne Moroney (ICE London Director).

Some of the ideas

The students came up with a number of interesting ideas for utilising emerging technologies to help solve the dilemma that they were presented with. These included:

  • An integrated sensory equipment and data management solution for road surface self-diagnostics
  • The introduction of user pays road surface recharging lanes for electric vehicles in congested traffic zones

and the winning team….

  • An interactive street lighting system for rural traffic hotspots powered wholly by renewable energy with built in energy storage capacity

Can you hack it?

ICE will be running student hackathons with a number of other universities over the next 12 months through our Academic Partnership Programme. We would also like to test the format with industry, so if you have read this with interest and would like to collaborate with us on taking forward your own idea for a hackathon do get in touch!