Carlos Asuncion: Autonomous Vehicle Sensor Selection

University of California Student Spends Summer at the Controls of a Driverless Car

College students across the country have rounded the halfway point of the fall 2014 semester and settled in for the push to the finish. Thanks to a UA College of Engineering summer research program focused on driverless car technology, University of California, Berkeley, senior Carlos Asuncion had a head start this semester expanding his skill set. 

As part of a National Science Foundation program, Asuncion and seven other college students, working in teams of two or three, spent 10 weeks helping advance the University of Arizona’s CAT vehicle, or cognitive and autonomous test vehicle. Asuncion worked on performing cost-benefit analyses of different autonomous vehicle sensors to determine which systems were viable consumer options. 

“Finding the best cost-performance balance will allow autonomous vehicle technology to be available to more people,” said Asuncion, who is majoring in electrical engineering and computer science.

The NSF program, Research Experiences for Undergraduates, or REU, provides opportunities for undergraduates to work with faculty mentors and graduate students on exciting research projects at universities throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. 

“I learned that I am pretty decent at speaking about technical knowledge,” Asuncion said. “I gained confidence in speaking with professors and graduate students in a technical setting.”

University of Arizona electrical and computer engineering professor Jonathan Sprinkle, a recent NSF Career Award winner who led the 2014 University of Arizona REU program, said the program was a good way to introduce students to research and graduate school.


For more on the UA CAT vehicle program, visit

To learn about the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, visit

Associate professor Jonathan Sprinkle, University of Arizona College of Engineering