A team of four students from the University of New Brunswick has made it to the top 20 of the CanInfra Challenge, a nationwide contest that crowdsources pitches to solve Canada’s infrastructure problems.
The team, called Smart Roads, is pitching a concept for an intelligent highway system with an open databank that feeds vital road, traffic and weather data to drivers.
“We’re possibly the only student team from Atlantic Canada and definitely the youngest team in the competition,” Nakul Gupta, a first-year business student and leader of the project, said in a statement.
Gupta is joined by second-year science student Blake Constable and first-year business students Prajain Raj Maskey and Peter Hopper.
To get to the next round in the competition, Smart Roads has to gain support through online voting over the next 10 days. The three teams with the most votes automatically advance to the top 10 while the remaining seven will be chosen by judges.
In a release, Gupta said he and his team were taken aback to make it to the top 20.
“We didn’t expect it,” said Gupta. "It is definitely an honour and it makes me sort of nervous. All of these other teams are filled with people who are established and have much more experience in infrastructure proposals. One of the other teams has more than 100 years of combined experience in infrastructure.”
Smart Roads' original idea was to develop a highway that feeds data to self-driving vehicles. That idea evolved to a plan for an open, peer-to-peer data network that funnels information required for both drivers and self-driving vehicles, like road hazards, and traffic and weather conditions.
The team is working to refine the idea further with help from the Boston Consulting Group, a sponsoring company for the competition.
The CanInfra Challenge is a six-month contest open to teams across Canada. The top 10 teams each win $5,000 to further develop proposals and travel to Toronto to present their ideas in May. The top winner in the final round receives $50,000 and a pitch session with senior government and private-sector leaders. The runner-up and people’s choice award winner each receive $25,000.