Ford Adds to Leading Australian Investment of More than $300 million by Sponsoring Robotics Competition to Spur Young Innovators

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

  • Ford Australia will sponsor the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition for kids aged 14-18 as part of their overarching support for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
  • As a global technology leader and the only auto company capable of fully developing vehicles in Australia, Ford is sponsoring the event to spur innovative young minds and generate a pipeline for potential future employees
  • Teams develop crash avoidance and mitigation systems for the robots, similar to the all-new Mondeo’s suite of radar and sensor-based technologies – such as 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
  • Ford engineering employees will become mentors, while the competition opens up volunteering opportunities for Sydney-based employees and dealers.

MELBOURNE– Ford is investing more in Australia than any other auto company – more than $300 million in 2015 on top of nearly $2 billion the past six years – including its inaugural sponsorship of the Australian Regional For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics Competition (FRC). The event will be held from the 12th to the 14th of March at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre.

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.

For example, the new Mondeo features 10 advanced technologies not offered by the Toyota Camry. This includes the company’s Australian launch of 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.

Other features include:

  • Lane Keeping System - 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 - 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 - Works with Adaptive Cruise Control to give drivers 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 – This feature takes the stress out of parking by not only finding a spot that’s just the right fit, but also by steering into parallel and perpendicular parking spaces itself.
  • SYNC2 – The updated system from the original SYNC, SYNC2 allows for 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.”

“The new Mondeo is loaded with leading innovations Ford is pioneering around the world, and that we expect to continue developing in Australia as one of the company’s four global design and engineering hubs.”

Ford supporting future generations

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.

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Michigan, manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 189,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit