Southeastern Student Spends Summer at the Controls of a Driverless Car

Every Fall, students return to class with stories to tell about what they did over summer break. But how many can say they spent the summer at the controls of a driverless car? Southeastern Oklahoma State University student Ryan Summit can. 

Thanks to a University of Arizona College of Engineering 10-week summer research program focused on driverless car technology, Summit and 11 other college students helped to advance the UA CAT vehicle, or cognitive and autonomous test vehicle. 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.

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.

Prior to participating in this program, Summit was working on an autonomous wheelchair technology. He says he thought he knew about autonomous technology -- until he began working on the CAT vehicle.

“I have taken many ideas that are implemented in this REU and plan to use them in my personal project,” Summit said.

University of Arizona electrical and computer engineering professor Jonathan Sprinkle, an NSF CAREER Award winner who led the 2015 University of Arizona REU program, said the program was a good way to introduce students to research and graduate school.

“Being exposed to challenging research topics with the help of mentors has been a rewarding and unforgettable experience,” Summit said. 

For more on the UA CAT vehicle program, visit, and to learn about the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, visit