SAN JOSE (KPIX) — A group of San Jose State University students just made history on their campus: building the college’s first autonomous vehicle.
“Performs pretty much the same behavior as a Tesla would,” said SJSU mechanical engineering professor Fred Barez, who oversaw the project.
The students showed off their hard work a day before they were all set to graduate on Friday.
It took them two years and an estimated $60,000 to build the self-driving car which uses LIDAR and cameras to detect people, objects and other obstacles.
Barez said a handful of students began working on the autonomous vehicle last year and a new group of students finished the project this year. The vehicle is programmed to go from a specific parking lot on campus, known as the ATM machine lot, to the events center.
Students are hoping that, one day, others will build autonomous vehicles that can be used all over campus.
Menson Li, a student who worked on the project this year, said future students will continue to work on the autonomous vehicle. Li said he’s proud of the work — not only because of what they’ve accomplished — but because he hopes the work will pave a path for the future.
“[Self-driving vehicles will] save our time, from driving, being stuck in traffic — we can do other stuff that can be productive and really transform our economy and the way we live,” Li said.
One of the challenges, according to Li, was the small budget.
But, on a Thursday test drive, the vehicle worked exactly as the students programmed it, slowing down and going around pedestrians. A couple of times it drove toward a bush or onto the lawn before correcting itself but it never hit an object.
“I’m just very proud of our students,” said Barez. “That they are able to achieve such a goal; this was just a dream.”