Coventry University graduate Nicole Agba wins the Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award with her concept for a biometric steering wheel
26 November 2014

Nicole Agba has been named as the winner of the sixth annual Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award.

Designed to help kick-start a career in the motor industry for budding graduates, the Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award is sponsored by manufacturers including Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren Automotive, Peugeot, Skoda and Toyota.

Agba impressed our judging panel with her concept for a biometric steering wheel.

The result was announced at the annual Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders dinner, in front of an audience of industry representatives.

Agba outlined how her plan, dubbed 'Steer Right', employs a Smart Fabrics Interactive Textile on the steering wheel, which uses sensors to monitor the driver's heart and respiration rate. The system can be used to detect signals that can indicate fatigue, anger or nervousness.

If put into production, the concept could even be used to detect alcohol in a driver's system, immobilising the vehicle if he or she is over the limit.

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Agba's prize includes work experience with JLR, McLaren, Peugeot, Skoda and Toyota, as well as a cash prize of £7500.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Autocar editor-in-chief Steve Cropley said: "Once again we have been bowled over by the calibre of the entries received for this year’s competition, making Nicole an all the more deserved winner. It just goes to show that you do not have to be studying for a degree as a technician to produce a creative idea with real gravitas and commercial appeal."

Runners-up in the Next Generation Award included Freddie Lee and Serge Kaldany, who both entered concepts for apps – one of which could alert drivers to the presence of cyclists and the other which could act as a games console-inspired control system.

Applications for the 2015 Next Generation Award will open early next year. 

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Our Verdict

Ford Fiesta
Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

The seventh-generation Ford Fiesta is the UK's best selling car, helped by frugal engines, handling verve and a big car feel

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week