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Aug 12, 2014 8:56 PM by Domenica Fuller

Students developing a "driverless" car at the University of Arizona

TUCSON - The future of driving is here in Tucson. Eight engineering and computer science students from around the country participated in a 10 week program at the University of Arizona to advance "driverless" car technology.

The University's Cognitive and Autonomous Test (CAT) has been a work in progress for the past few years. The project, however, is all in the name of research and the betterment of society.

"Well everyone drives or knows someone who drives, so that's interesting because the changes that we make in research for vehicles can really impact everyone in the U.S. And having that ability to have that kind of a high impact is really important for engineering students to be able to realize and it motivates us to help society, " said Dr. Jonathan Sprinkles, the program's administrator and a professor at the University of Arizona.

Every summer, students advance the car's technology. Projects this summer ranged from designing a path for the car to helping the car detect different obstacles. This particular group of students also focused on reducing the cost of the autonomous car. The sensor alone is 80-thousand dollars.

"It's a surreal experience being in a car that drives itself. The steering wheel moves by itself, so I think getting a hands on experience with that was the most exciting [part]," said Alice Kim, a student participant.

Spectators of Tuesday's demonstration had the opportunity to test ride the "driverless" car.

"It feels like there is actually someone driving it, but it was eerie to see that nobody was next to me," said Elizabeth Cubelo, an employee at the University of Arizona.

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