Spectators got a glimpse of the future on Aug. 11 as they watched an SUV steer itself around a University of Arizona parking lot -- and got a chance to take a spin in it themselves.
Beneath stormy skies that temporarily disrupted but did not halt the high-tech proceedings, members of the UA and Tucson communities, along with several news reporters, were there to see visiting college students demonstrate their summer research projects with the UA’s Cognitive and Autonomous Test, or CAT, vehicle as part of the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.
Selected from over 300 applicants, 12 diverse students from colleges around the nation presented their projects, including software that lets a smartphone operate a driverless car and research to ease traffic congestion without the need for traffic lights, with help from UA student and faculty mentors. The program was hosted by Jonathan Sprinkle, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and a renowned expert on driverless cars and other complex autonomous systems.
One of the spectators, Jill McKeever, was there to cheer on her son, Kennon McKeever -- a student participating in this year's program.
“I don’t know what’s scarier: teaching a teenager to drive, or riding in a driverless car,” she said. “It was pretty unreal to see the car in action.”
Visit www.catvehicle.arizona.edu for more on UA’s REU program.
For news on the CAT vehicle, visit: