Driving Toward an Autonomous Future

September 27, 2019


Sara Savitz

The development of autonomous modes of transportation is a trend Sara Savitz is onboard with as she earns her master’s degree in Computer Engineering. She says continuing her education after receiving her BSCP at USF was a chance to follow up on her research interests, which include autonomous robotics and artificial intelligence.

“My last semester as a bachelor undergrad I was working on autonomous vehicles, both land and air, and integrating AI into both scenarios,” says Savitz. “I just kind of really enjoyed the open-endedness to research and I wanted to keep working in that area.”

A capstone class project that applied classroom knowledge in solving real-world problems, is among the undergraduate experiences that helped prepare Savitz for the research she is conducting now. Savitz and her classmates developed an augmented reality training tool for air force plane cargo handlers that creates an immersive experience by combining virtual reality with the real world.

“It was a really good opportunity to work on a team and I got exposure to things like virtual reality and programming languages,” says Savitz.

Savitz also cites the support that organizations like Women in Computer Science & Engineering provides to the growing number of women who are entering the computer engineering field.

“I’ve met a lot of incredible women in the organization. It really has helped me affirm my place in the department.”

Savitz adds that organizations like WICSE will continue to be important elements for student success.

“We need to continue to push that representation so we have more women who can make contributions.”

The focus of Savitz’s graduate research is on developing autonomous vehicle technology that incorporates artificial intelligence with off-the-shelf technology such as Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors and depth cameras. While the research is geared toward earthbound vehicles, the possibility of participating in extraterrestrial projects interests her.

“I’d love to do some space-related work.”