Coventry University graduate, Nicole Agba, has won the prestigious Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award for her innovative biometric steering wheel concept.
The ‘Steer Right’ system employs an Interactive textile on the wheel and sensors to monitor the driver’s heart and respiration rates, and to detect psychological signals that could indicate fatigue, anger or nervousness. If put into production, the wheel would even detect alcohol in the driver’s system, and immobilise the vehicle if they are over the limit.
Conceived as a launch pad for aspiring innovators into the automotive industry, the Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award has helped graduates kick-start their careers in sectors as diverse as paint and trim, PR and engineering. Roberto Pace, who won the Award in 2012, is now a design engineer at McLaren and designed a key steering rack part on the new P1 supercar.
Nicole, 23, from Rainham in Kent, will now embark on a five-month work experience tour of Award sponsors Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren Automotive, Peugeot, Skoda and Toyota. She also wins a cash prize of £7,500.
She said: “I’m ecstatic to have won! It’s such a unique experience; I’m so pleased to have had the opportunity to be a part of it. Not only am I thrilled to be the first female recipient of the Award, I hope my success inspires others who might ever have been told they cannot do something, to look at my example and not be afraid to chase their dreams. With hard work and dedication, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.”
Autocar editor-in-chief Steve Cropley, who is chairman of the judging panel, 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.”
Applications for the 2015 Autocar Courland Next Generation Award will open early next year.