University of Iowa bringing automated vehicle testing to local rural roads

Study comes as a result of a $7 million U.S. DOT grant

August 18, 2020
University of Iowa bringing automated vehicle testing to local rural roads
Image: University of Iowa

University of Iowa researchers with the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) are preparing for an upcoming demonstration study about automated driving on rural roads.

This comes as a result of a $7 million U.S. DOT grant officially awarded to the university this spring.

This study focuses on both the unique challenges of rural roads and showing the future benefits of automated vehicles to people with mobility issues.

The project—called Automated Driving Systems (ADS) for Rural America—will use a custom vehicle equipped with scanning lasers known as LiDAR, computer vision systems, RADARs, and high definition maps. A specially trained driver will be driving the vehicle at all times, and the vehicle will follow a 47-mile route through parts of Iowa City, Hills, Riverside, and Kalona—experiencing different types of roads along the route.

The project will also examine how the technology may one day provide transportation options for people in rural areas. 

To do this, researchers will recruit individuals in early 2021 from local communities to be passengers in the automated vehicle. Those recruited will be age 65 and older or have a disability that affects their mobility. Researchers will study the individuals’ comfort levels and perceptions of the technology.

A safety driver will be behind the wheel at all times to monitor the automated features and drive the vehicle anytime those features are not in use. According to the university, these drivers are specially trained members of the research team with years of experience using these technologies. A second research team member will be on board to assist with study subjects.

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SOURCE: University of Iowa

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