Duc Lam: CATMobile!

University of Utah Engineering Student Spends Summer at the Controls of a Driverless Car

Duc Lam worked this summer on the kind of technology that most people only expect to find in comic books.

“Imagine Batman jumping off a building, holding out his phone, and having the Batmobile drive forward and pick him up,” said Lam, who is studying electrical engineering. “Well this summer I was able to work on that sort of technology – the CATmobile!”

As part of a prestigious National Science Foundation program, Lam spent 10 weeks at the University of Arizona in Tucson with nine other college students from throughout the United States helping advance the UA’s CAT vehicle, or cognitive and autonomous test vehicle.

The NSF program, Research Experiences for Undergraduates, provides opportunities for undergraduates to work with faculty mentors and graduate students at universities across the nation.

Lam and two teammates worked on designing a mobile interface for safety verification of autonomous vehicle trajectories. The project involved making sure the vehicle stopped if it encountered anything en route to picking up Batman.

 “I learned what life was like as researcher; I got really hands on experience programming with the car, and the program broadened me as a person,” said Lam.

UA electrical and computer engineering professor Jonathan Sprinkle, a recent NSF Career Award winner, led the 2013 University of Arizona REU program.

“The students left here knowing what research was and how interested they were in doing research,” he said.


To view a video about Duc Lam’s REU experience, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcDMuRtITLQ&list=PLcXdwRQiNMIrddWAggJ_6M7xa6kxrhkp7

For more on the UA CAT vehicle program, visit http://catvehicle.arizona.edu/

To learn about the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, visit http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/


Professor Jonathan Sprinkle, University of Arizona College of Engineering