Ford is investing more than $300 million in Australia and part of that money will go to sponsoring the Australian Regional For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics Competition (FRC). The FRC competition is an internationally acclaimed program that aims to ignite passion in young participants aged 14-18 who are looking to pursue a career in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries.
This partnership is more than a sponsorship as Ford’s vehicles increasingly feature advanced sensor and radar-based technologies that are similar to those needed to guide robots. The event will be held from the 12th to the 14th of March at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre.
The new Mondeo for example, features advanced technologies like Active City Stop with Pedestrian Protection, which can help automatically apply the brakes if a driver does not respond in time to a slowing vehicle ahead or person in their path.
There’s also a Lane Keeping System which can alert the driver if they drift out of their lane by vibrating the steering wheel and will direct them back into their lane by automatically applying steering torque unless, of course, their indicator is on.
Adaptive Cruise Control that senses if traffic is slowing and automatically slows to maintain a pre-determined distance from the car in front. When the traffic clears, it goes back to the driver’s pre-set speed.
Forward Alert that allows the driver to receive a visual and audible warning when the gap to a vehicle ahead drops below a safe distance. The system also charges the brakes to ensure optimum braking performance.
Enhanced Active Park Assist which detects if your vehicle will fit in a parking spot, and also steers your car into parallel and perpendicular parking spaces itself.
SYNC2 which hopefully is upgraded to SYNC3 soon, provides easier access to audio, navigation, climate control and connected devices to allow the driver to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
”Ford is investing more than $300 million in R&D in Australia this year alone as the only auto company capable of fully engineering vehicles here,” said Graydon Reitz, Engineer Director, Asia-Pacific. “This sponsorship helps us encourage the next generation of innovators that hopefully one day can help us design and engineer vehicles for the Australia and the world.”
In addition to sponsoring the program, Ford Australia will also be funding two teams taking part in the event, the ‘Robo Cats’ and ‘Home School Kids’. Each team consists of 10-30 young Australians aged between 14-18 years old, with support provided by way of provision of hardware materials and tools, support from Ford mentors and publicity over the course of the competitive process.
“Our partnership with the FRC is not only a great opportunity for us to work with today’s youth, teaching them about the industry and the direction in which we are headed, but also for us to learn how the younger generation approaches challenges in unique ways,” said Reitz. “We are also recruiting our newly hired graduates from the engineering team to support the brightest young minds as mentors during the program since they can better relate to their experiences.”
With this support, over a six week period, participants are charged with designing, building, programing and driving their own robots. A judge from the company’s head office will also volunteer their time during the running of the event and provide feedback to teams throughout the competition.
Ford hopes that participants from this program will gain a thirst for technology and be at the forefront of the push towards future innovations and technological advancements.
“We continue to grow as a business with the addition of talented young people who bring with them fresh ideas and experiences relevant to our audiences. It will be exciting to see what this year’s group of competitors bring to the fore,” said Reitz.
Ford aims to nurture the talent from this competition, and others like it, as they continue to pursue innovation leadership in Australia.