UB Summer Innovation Academy: The Inclusive Autonomous Vehicle Design Challenge

July 13 – August 7, 2020 | Virtual Event

Olli Bus.

Do you want to do something exciting, fun and meaningful this summer? The Inclusive Autonomous Vehicle Design Challenge is your opportuntity to work with peers and students from other disciplines to transform the way communities think about transportation. 

Learn about innovation, inclusive design, product development and autonomous vehicle transportation. Practice how to effectively work in virtual, interdisciplinary teams while gaining experience and building your resume. 

You will have an opportunity to win up to $1,500 while working with UB faculty on a proposal as well as the opportunity to compete nationally to develop a working prototype of your concept!


Autonomous vehicles will undoubtedly change the way all individuals travel. Additionally, there is significant national interest to ensure that this transportation transformation will specifically benefit those with disabilities who are currently unable to drive. Many design challenges must be addressed in order to do so. The time to create tomorrow’s solutions is now.

Your Challenge

Develop an innovative design concept to ensure that the next generation of fully autonomous vehicles addresses the needs of everyone, specifically those unable to drive independently. 


  • Receive a certificate of completion -- that states that you have completed UB’s Summer Student Innovation Academy
  • Learn about working in virtual teams, inclusive design, iterative design processes, autonomous vehicle design considerations, bringing ideas to conceptual design, computer programming, developing a business case, prototyping, design deliverables, how to present your ideas, among other topics.
  • Work with students from other disciplines and faculty who you might not otherwise meet
  • Compete for an opportunity to win cash prizes, and work toward a larger proposal to the U.S. DOT

How does the program work?

Register to participate on or before  June 28. You will then organize into teams of 3-4 students, preferably from different disciplines, on a project of mutual interest. You will receive a series of virtual trainings instructed by faculty and industry experts on the goals of the academy, rules of the design competition, inclusive design, product development, autonomous vehicle transportation, virtual project teamwork and other cool topics from July 7-July 24, 2020. During this time, you will have access to mentors and coaches with interests or expertise related to your innovation. You will then refine your design ideas and present them in early August to a panel of expert judges that include autonomous vehicle manufacturers, product developers and members of the disability community. 

IDEA center.

Design Concept Areas

Teams will focus on hardware and/or software solutions aimed to address barriers in transportation including:

  • Locating an Automated Driving System-dedicated vehicle (ADS-DV)
  • Entering an ADS-DV
  • Securing passengers and mobility equipment
  • Inputting information
  • Interacting with the ADS in routine and emergency situations
  • Exiting an ADS-DV

What’s my commitment?

  • Participants can expect to spend 10-15 hours per week working on this project
  • Attend orientation and onboarding session the week of July 13
  • Commit to attending the virtual workshop lectures:  Two per day from 10:00-11:00 a.m. EDT, July 13-24
  • Two team meetings per week scheduled at mutually convenient times for team members
  • Engage with your mentor and venture coach to refine your pitch - one meeting per week
  • Create a pitch presentation of your concepts to share at the design competition

All students will receive a certificate for participating in the academy. The top three design concepts will receive cash prizes to be split among team members: 1st ($1500), 2nd ($1000) and 3rd ($750). Winning teams will also be invited to work with faculty on the development a larger prototype proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation to further refine the design concept, additional prizes, and the opportunity to build a working prototype of the design concept. In order to accept prize money, students must have an ITIN or SSN.


UB Business and Entrepreneurship Partnerships.
Blackstone Launchpad Powered by Techstars.
UB Innovation Hub.
Stephen Still Institute for Sustainable Transportation and Logistics.