UP team leads online vote in global contest | Inquirer News

UP team leads online vote in global contest

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:00 AM November 25, 2020

A team from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman has inched its way to a possible victory in a global contest among engineering students to come up with ideas for energy-efficient vehicles toward a lower carbon future.

Alamat UP’s “Team Cero” led the online voting portion of Shell’s Eco-Marathon (SEM) Pitch the Future research contest after the polls closed at 8 a.m. on Tuesday (Manila time).


It garnered 53 percent of the votes in the “Tracking and Reducing CO2 (carbon dioxide) Emissions from Vehicles with Microsoft” part of the competition, besting entries from TED University in Turkey (45 percent) and University of Alberta in Canada (2 percent).

Regional winner

“Pitch the Future” is an all-new virtual league that was integrated in the annual SEM, which gathers student teams worldwide to use their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to tackle real world energy challenges—decarbonizing the home, tracking and reducing CO2 emissions from vehicles, decarbonizing road freight transport, and electric vehicles and long-distance travels.


Alamat UP was declared winner in the Asia/Middle East region for the tracking and reducing CO2 emissions challenge on Nov. 7, making it among the 12 teams in four categories to pitch their ideas in a global arena.

The Canadian and Turkish entries were winners in the Americas and Europe regions.

Throughout the competition, the UP students have designed a mobile app named Cero (CO2 Emission Reduction Operation), which helps track and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from passenger vehicles.

Results of the online votes comprise 23 percent of the total score of the global winner of the competition. It will be added to the scores of the teams given by a panel of judges in the written report and live pitch/team presentation stages.

The team getting the highest combined score will be declared the global winner of the category, which will be announced on Dec. 10 (Dec. 11 in Manila).

While Alamat UP is based in UP Diliman’s College of Engineering, Team Cero is composed of undergraduate students from interdisciplinary fields—business administration and accounting, chemical engineering and mechanical engineering.

Cero app

They are Matthew Solomon Arjonillo, Esther Pauline Bacay, John Cagape, Paolo Ricco Gauma, Althea Patricia Laza, Fu-lin Li, Aleandro Sta. Ana, Jan Goran Tomacruz and Marc Adrian Yu.


The Cero app aims to act as a platform for users to monitor their fuel consumption and reduce it by implementing ecodriving best practices. It also features real-time ecodriving notification, optimal route mapping capabilities, after-trip analysis and fuel consumption wallet for budgeting.

Partnered with Microsoft Azure’s machine learning services, the accuracy of Cero could be near those of telematic service providers.

The app also has an incentive feature, encouraging drivers to practice ecodriving by showing fuel savings, as well as coupons and promos available from partner organizations or sponsors.

Decrease in fuel expenses

Alamat UP sees a decrease of average monthly fuel expenses from P1,750 to P7,250, and prevents unnecessary CO2 emissions by 15 percent.

The CO2 emission count could also be collected and be used as a guide for environmental policymaking.

By requiring only smartphone sensors and machine learning to operate effectively, the Cero app can measure links between driving behavior and fuel consumption without the need for additional, costly sensors required by other similar products.

‘Collective passion’

“We are proud that we are able to come up with an innovative solution that does not use additional hardware and is cheap enough for anyone to use,” Laza said in the team’s video pitch.

Alamat UP said it chose to participate in SEM’s Pitch the Future virtual league because of “a collective passion to prove to ourselves that we can make a difference in this world.”

Consistent perseverance

Tomacruz said Cero was not just a product of a eureka moment.

“We learned that a big idea does not come from a sudden spark of brilliance, but it is a product of consistent perseverance. All throughout we never stopped asking questions, and we never stopped suggesting new ways to innovate,” he said.

Shell Eco-marathon is one of the world’s leading student engineering competitions and has been held for the past 35 years.

According to its website, the program has “consistently brought to life Shell’s mission of powering progress together by providing more and cleaner energy solutions.” It has brought together STEM students all over the world “to design, build and operate some of the world’s most energy-efficient vehicles … all in the name of collaboration and innovation, as students’ bright ideas help to shape a lower carbon future for all.” INQ

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