This research experience for undergraduates (REU) is engaged in the myriad of applications that are related to autonomous ground vehicles. This summer, 12 NSF-funded undergraduate students participated in an immersive research experience, sitting side-by-side with graduate researchers and working on one of the most compelling, and complex, applications of today: autonomous systems.

TUCSON, Arizona -- Visiting undergraduate students, including some who are the first in their families to attend college, experienced hands-on research---and hands-off driving---in a National Science Foundation program at the University of Arizona this summer. They will demonstrate their driverless tech research projects on the UA campus Aug. 11.

CAT Vehicle under autonomous control. Image credit: University of Arizona.

Today's cars are getting more and more sophisticated in their behaviors, but true autonomy needs truly expensive sensors. Carlos Asuncion of UC Berkeley participated in the CAT Vehicle program in 2014, and he was interviewed by Ted Simons for the Arizona Horizon program on PBS 8 (KAET) in Phoenix, AZ.

 To watch the entire interview, visit

Carlos Asuncion (2014 Participant) on Public Television

On Tuesday, August 8, 2014, students from across the nation participating in a College of Engineering research program capped off the summer by taking the UA’s driverless car for a spin.

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The applications process is currently closed for 2015. We typically accept applications from mid-November until early April, for a June-August program. Check back during that time frame in order to apply for the 2016 program.

  • 1 March: Applications due, to guarantee full consideration
  • 8 March: Letters of Recommendation due, to guarantee full consideration
  • 9-23 March: Selection process
  • 15 April: Notification deadline
  • April-May: Preparation and background reading
  • June-August: 10-week program.

This REU site will support 10 students over the summer. Each student will receive:

  • Stipend of $5,000 over the summer
  • Housing, meal allowance, and $600 travel allowance to Tucson, AZ
  • Letters of recommendation from their faculty mentors

Students will participate as researchers for the summer, working side by side with graduate researchers and faculty who are experts in cognitive radio and autonomous ground vehicles. Want to know more about what the REU is like? Check out the videos made by previous CAT Vehicle participants.

Whether for business or pleasure, people come from all across the world to visit Tucson's blossoming green landscape. Found in the Sonoran Desert - dubbed "the greenest of deserts" - Tucson offers travelers clear skies, fresh air, stunning sunsets and rugged outdoor adventures.

CAT Vehicle 2015

Alberto Heras (University of Arizona)
Lykes Claytor (Wofford College)

Can we route traffic better than traffic lights can, if cars can communicate with one another?

Elizabeth Olson worked on developing code that controls the CAT vehicle through a smart phone.

Yegeta Zeleke worked on creating a new programming language that allows for faster programming of autonomous vehicles.

Ryan Summit researched ways a driverless car can function in stop-and-go traffic with inexpensive technology, such as with the use of low-cost cameras.

Yesenia Velasco worked on developing hybrid predictive controller technology, which helps the vehicle identify obstacles in the environment without compromising velocity.