Northumbria University product design student Oliver Brunt has won this year's Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award. The identity of the winner was announced at the Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders' annual dinner at the Park Lane Hilton in central London this evening.
The competition, run by Autocar together with the automotive people specialist Courland, challenged university students all over Britain to come up with an original idea that would improve or progress today's motor industry.
Oliver Brunt’s winning idea combines a new kind of active head-up display, known as SHUD – Social Head-Up Display – that uses sophisticated graphics and can employ the whole of a car’s screen as its “canvas”. The SHUD system conveys a new level of real time car-to-car communication to provide drivers with a much better standard of information, presented more attractively and without distraction.
In normal use, the graphics practically replace of conventional instruments; at moments of risk, the system actively highlights obstacles or conflicting traffic which the driver may not have noticed. The total effect, says Brunt, is to make driving much safer, especially in congested areas.
This year's ideas were described by the team of judges, chaired by Autocar's editor-in-chief Steve Cropley, as the most innovative and refreshing yet.
Entrants were asked to describe their idea in a short report, with a group of 12 finalists being selected by the judges. Then there were two judging days, one to whittle the 12 down to six then a second at Autocar's headquarters where a panel of top-level industry specialists as judges chose three 'super-finalists' from the six and then the overall winner.
As well as winner Oliver Brunt, the five other finalists were: Anthony White (University of Southampton), Katie Jones (University of Leeds), Tarun Bhuvaneshwari (Loughborough University), Callum Nash (Coventry University) and Ben Milton (Coventry University).
Callum Nash and Katie Jones were named very worthy runners-up in the competition.
All short-listed entrants enjoy the increasingly valuable accolade of having been a Next Generation Award finalist, and a number of them are now working in the motor industry. The winner gets a generous cash prize of £7500 and up to six months’ work motor industry experience, working for the award's sponsors, McLaren Cars, Mercedes-Benz Retail, Peugeot, Skoda and Toyota. Each sponsor provides part of the cash prize plus one month's work experience.
The award is in its third year, and is steadily growing in popularity, says Autocar editor, Jim Holder. “We see it as a way of adding something useful to the industry we so much admire and support,” he says. “The car business has more challenges than most over the next few years, and only the best talent can help it meet them on time.”