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4 December, 2013 - 21:42 By Tony Quested

Cheeky car sensor makes its mark

Jake-Larsson

Cheeky new technology that alerts motorists to surround danger by sending vibrations into a driver’s seat has proved a kick-ass hit with motor manufacturers. Far from being regarded as a bum steer, the UK innovation has earned the inventor cash, kudos and a clear career path.

Jake Larsson, a student at Cranfield University, won the 2013 Autocar-Courland competition worth £7,500 and a month’s work experience in five automotive companies.

Jake’s idea was based around sensors in the driver’s seat that allow the driver to be aware of vehicles in close proximity.

The technology isn’t being commercialised yet but Jake is exploring various avenues for funding, including with insurers and other areas where the technology might be applicable such as motorcycling. He’s obviously keen to hear from anyone who might be interested!

The main difference with his tech and the existing danger-sensing technology is in the way he is using it. With his idea you can use any sensing technology (lidar/radar/ultra sonic range finder/visual CCD etc) and the system translates the spatial information into vibrations in the driver’s seat – as opposed to blinking lights on the dash or bleeping sounds, for example. He has basically taken existing technologies but employed them differently.

Jake studied the MDes Innovation and Design for Creativity course at Cranfield and is now doing a PhD, whereas many of the applicants will have come from an automotive background.

As part of his prize, Jake will now start a five-month paid internship with competition partners Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren Automotive, Peugeot, Skoda and Toyota. Each partner will pay Jake £1500.

He said: “The whole experience has been overwhelming, emotionally stimulating and I am ecstatic about the outcome. I am truly looking forward to the once in a lifetime work experience ahead of me and the learning opportunities that offers.”

First launched in 2009, the Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award is supported by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Autocar editor-in-chief Steve Cropley said: “Jake is a well deserved winner. His idea for sensory integration was very professionally presented and included concept philosophy, market need, technical feasibility, opportunity and commercial viability.”

Last year’s winner and finalists have all found industry positions; winner Roberto Antonio Pace is working at McLaren, Jonathan Maynard is at Aston Martin and James Benson at JCB. The 2013 award is backed by Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren Automotive, Peugeot, Skoda and Toyota.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Jake Larsson

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