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Why this interstate in Iowa might be the best place for pilot projects using highly automated vehicles

October 24, 2016

Why this interstate in Iowa might be the best place for pilot projects using highly automated vehicles

In an unprecedented partnership, the Iowa Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT) is giving companies free access to the high-definition maps and associated data needed to run highly automated vehicles on a real, in-use highway.

Iowa DOT partnered with Here, a company jointly owned by Audi, BMW and Daimler, to create high definition maps of a portion of I-380 between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. The mapping enables vehicle-to-infrastructure communication; static and dynamic mapping data for vehicle automation; real-time traffic monitoring; and localized safety information.

Any company wishing to access the maps can do so for free, if they enter into a data-sharing agreement with Here. The Iowa DOT is unaware of any similar offer anywhere else in the country.

In addition, Iowa is home to some of the most advanced research in automated vehicles. The University of Iowa has done Advanced Driver Assistance System and automated vehicle research for more than 20 years. In addition to advanced road vehicles, it is also home to the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) at the University of Iowa Research Park, just outside of Iowa City.  NADS is one of the world’s most advanced driving simulators and is staffed by more than 30 faculty, staff, and students who study the connection between humans and vehicles. The NADS research labs include test vehicles that can operate with higher levels of automation. Research vehicles, simulator and its staff are available for advanced research and development grants and contracts.

If your company is interested in accessing these high-definition maps, please contact Scott Marler, Director of Traffic Operations, Iowa Department of Transportation at



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