Connected Vehicle Derby

Thursday, May 1, 2014
Location & Time: 

Moss Arts Center (5:30-8:00pm)

Cost: Free

Event for ages 6-10.

Be part of the excitement of the developing research and innovation. Based on research at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, this event will engage upcoming drivers with technology that helps cars communicate with other cars and the highways they drive on. All of this could lead to safer driving and highways for everyone!

Connected vehicles and highways are new to the driving experience. You will be helping us test out the technology in this inaugural event. Your car and your experience will help us learn important information about how to work with this technology.

Event Details
Build your own cardboard car or truck prototype prior to the event (see instructions here). On the day of the event, bring your vehicle and your driving skills and race on the connected highway! You will hit four stops* along the way:

Stop 1: Registration – Arrive at your wave start time and turn in your forms to let us know you are here.

Stop 2: Pit Stop, sponsored by Campus Automotive – Work with Virginia Tech faculty and students to equip your car with the sensor systems needed to turn your cardboard vehicle into a connected vehicle.

Stop 3: Connected Highway – Head into our Cube, which will be transformed into a highway where you will race against other drivers. Be careful, though. Your car will record how fast you go, detect any collisions you have, and even keep track of whether you stay inside the highway lines. Parents and siblings can enjoy the view from the grandstand.

Stop 4: Victory Lane – Park your car and see how you did. Learn more about how connected vehicles could keep you safe.

*The entire event should last between an hour and an hour and a half.

Highways get crowded, so we need to send drivers in waves. Choose your preferred start time when your register. Make sure you arrive the day of the event 5 minutes prior to your wave start time. Register here.

This program is part of Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology research portfolio. For more information, see

Sample Derby Car


As an alternative to the instructions provided, Lowe’s and Home Depot both sell a box the exact dimensions of the finished car. Their large moving boxes measure 24” x 18” x 18” (which equates to the side panel x rear/front panel x height, respectively). Please feel free to stray from the instructions and improvise with this size box (eliminating almost all of the cutting). You will need to make sure the car has a hole in the top and bottom (so it fits the driver), includes the steering wheel, and has the hood space (so we can mount the electronics). In addition, please consult the instructions on the headlights and rear brake lights, so you know where to place those holes on the car as well.

You may also use a box you already have that is similar in size!

Your driver can decorate the car any way they like. We will be providing license plates for the front and rear of every car!