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Author's profile photo Uta Spinger

Connected Car Contest: Winning Ideas

As any car owner will tell you, driving in a big city can quickly turn from comfort into frustration. Congested roads, high fuel costs, and spending an eternity looking for a parking spot can drive even the most patient of people around the bend. The World Health Organization estimates that the global urban population will reach 5.2 billion by 2050, and with many of those people needing to be mobile, the situation in our cities is likely to get worse without the right ideas and advances in technology.

SAP has recognized that some of the best ideas in this area have yet to be explored. So at the end of last year, the company teamed up with Audi AG to launch the 2012 Global Connected Car Contest. The competition invited students from around the world to submit proposals for the connected car in categories including traffic, fueling, parking, and the environment. The prize for the best ideas: a week-long trip to Silicon Valley to meet experts from SAP and Audi and work on a real-life connected car solution. Thes are the winning ideas:

  • Carpanion: “Carpanion” is a system where the car monitors the driver’s current condition and adapts the environment accordingly. “Carpanion” would use real-time data analytics to evaluate the vehicle’s surroundings and the driver’s emotional state before changing lighting, entertainment, and comfort settings for support. It would also be able to calculate alternative routes.  The system would use a smartphone to monitor the driver’s speech and motion, as well as relevant information stored on the device.
  • Smart parking: It’s the epitome of parking frustration: you finally find a parking spot, only for someone else to beat you to it at the last second. The smart parking system would make that a thing of the past: it allows drivers to see an overview of spaces before entering a car park, but also to reserve a spot via touch screen at the entrance. The driver would then receive a description of how to reach the chosen space.
  • Sharing residential parking spaces: the network connects drivers to city residents who are not currently using their residential parking spaces. The platform would automatically search for private parking spots – which often lay empty during the working day – and offer them to city visitors. Not only do drivers benefit from easy, hassle-free parking, but residents can use the scheme to earn a little extra money.
  • Navigation System 2.0: systems often ignore public transport options when finding the quickest route to a destination. The proposal not only calculates the fastest journey by car, but also takes buses, trains, and cabs into account, which are often quicker during rush hour. Furthermore, the navigation system would suggest places along the way to up a coffee, a snack, or even some flowers on the journey home.
  • Instant Start-up: the idea involves vehicles communicating with each other while waiting at a set of traffic lights. This communication would enable the automobiles to start up and accelerate simultaneously once the traffic lights turn green, saving fuel and resulting in less congestion.
  • Car sharing network: a network enabling members to join pre-planned routes. First, a driver enters a route he or she is planning to take. This route is then published online to allow other members to book in on any part of the journey from their smartphones. The driver picks them up and drops them off along the route as required, for example at a bus stop or train station, where the passenger can continue their journey.


Most of the week the students spent working on a new smartphone app that combined aspects of the winning ideas. The result was WaitASec, an application that helps drivers find available parking spaces in real time while donating money to charity. At the end of the week, the app was successfully tested on the streets of Palo Alto (see video).

Following the success of the Global Car Contest in 2012, SAP has recently announced a new contest for 2013 with GM/Chevrolet. This time, start-up companies can take part, too. The deadline for submissions is November 15, and the winners will be announced in early 2014. Details of the new contest, including how to enter, can be found at

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      Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer
      Tom Van Doorslaer

      These are some really cool ideas. Some of them or not even that far-fetched, like the navigation 2.0

      I think Google has already started importing public transportation routes in their maps application (beta obviously)

      The carparion which measures the mood of the driver is already available in some more expensive cars, be it in a more primitive form.

      I always love being inspired around the topic of connected cars and I do very much believe that this will become a booming market for many more years to come. Transport is still based on the same principles that were already in use in the middle ages.

      The computers are starting to take more and more control over the vehicle out of the hands of the driver so that we get logical reactions in traffic, rather than emotional reactions (which lead to over-reactions, which lead to incidents)