Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The University of Iowa Center for Advancement featured the National Advanced Driving Simulator as the cover story for its December 2020 edition of Iowa Magazine with story from Josh O'Leary, photos from Justin Torner, and video from John Emigh.

University of Iowa researchers at the National Advanced Driving Simulator pave the way for the automated vehicles of tomorrow. But how soon before self-driving cars get here? Iowa's rural roads could hold the key.

The past and present of transportation intersect not far from Iowa City. Near the small town of Kalona, just a 30-minute drive south of the University of Iowa, horse-drawn buggies clop through the Amish countryside on their way to the bakery or general store. Meanwhile, modern-day sedans and SUVs zip past. They're guided by pinpoint GPS mapping, lane-keeping cameras, and collision-detection systems that light up the dash when they approach a slow-moving buggy or tractor.

Soon a vehicle from the future will also share the road here. UI engineers plan to roll out a new automated vehicle packed with research instruments for a multi-year study beginning in 2021. It's not quite a DeLorean, but the customized, automated Ford shuttle bus will travel in a 47-mile loop, carrying research subjects through Iowa City, Kalona, Riverside, and Hills. Fueled by a $7 million research grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the vehicle will gather data on the challenges rural roads present to automated driving systems and study how emerging technology can help older residents in rural communities overcome mobility barriers.

The project is the latest mile marker in a long history of roadway safety research by the UI-based National Advanced Driving Simulator. NADS has been an international pacesetter in studying how humans interact with their vehicles since 1992, when the National Science Foundation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration selected Iowa to host the center over five other universities. Many of the crash avoidance features that are now standard in automobiles were first tested at Iowa, and today, NADS serves as one of the world's top hubs for advanced automotive driving research.

Daniel McGehee
Dan McGehee

"There are a great number of technologies that have come through NADS over the years on their research, development, and regulatory journeys before production," says Dan McGehee, director of NADS laboratories. In the 1990s, the UI pioneered research on safety systems like anti-lock brakes, forward-collision warning, and lane-departure warnings. Later, a landmark UI study proved the effectiveness of electronic stability control—a system that corrects loss-of-control events like fishtailing by automatically shifting the braking to individual wheels—which led to the feature being required in the U.S. on all vehicles beginning in 2012.

View the full story here: https://magazine.foriowa.org/story.php?ed=true&storyid=2029