?: Chris Christen

Friends and family told him he was going to break his brand-new car – or worse, get himself killed. But, Brevan Jorgenson did it anyway, converting his 2016 Honda Civic into one of Nebraska’s first self-driving cars. That’s how the recent University of Nebraska Omaha grad rolls.

“I love giving people rides,” he says. “When I watch their faces the first time they sit behind the wheel and it starts driving itself, it’s indescribable.” 

The project – driven by curiosity, ability and a couple of YouTube videos – has gained Brevan plenty of attention, including an article in the MIT Technology Review and speaking engagements at the Drone Focus Conference in Fargo, North Dakota, and TEDxMileHigh in Denver, Colorado.

“The best part about the attention is getting to share my knowledge and experiences to educate others,” he says.

Brevan completed the upgrade over a couple of weeks last year. He reports no crashes or other issues. His Civic is partially automated (Level 2), meaning it can steer itself, accelerate and brake in certain conditions. He believes it’ll be at least 20 years before total (Level 5) autonomy and related benefits are the norm.

“Self-driving cars will allow our society to continue to increase its trend of a more productive work week. Imagine if those 45-minutes you lose on your morning commute became productive time.”

An expert on productive time, Brevan graduated in May with two technology degrees. He now works full-time at UNO as a technical consultant and is taking online classes towards a Masters of Education in Instructional Technology. Once he completes that, he says he’ll roll with whatever opportunities become available: “Life has changed so much in the last two years and I expect it will again in another two years. So, I try to take it as it comes and get as much out of it as possible.”

Excerpt from Omaha: We Don’t Coast, 2018 edition  – a Greater Omaha Chamber publication celebrating the 30+ communities that make Omaha – Greater Omaha. Created and produced by the Omaha World-Herald.

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