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This Iowa-based virtual city might be the best place to test driverless cars

May 31, 2016

Attention companies spending millions to build test tracks for driverless vehicles: There’s a 285-square mile city in Iowa that can switch from day to night, monsoon to blizzard or from open roads to gridlock, in a matter of seconds.

It’s a city called Springfield, it’s the world’s first large-scale multi-use driving simulation environment and it’s located at the University of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) in Coralville, Iowa. NADS has been a venue for driving breakthroughs since becoming operational in 2001.

Since that time, the simulator has generated more than $55 million in research contracts for the U.S. Department of Transportation. It’s one of many resources available for private companies at Iowa’s public universities. Interested in NADS or working with one of our three public universities? Contact the Iowa Economic Development Authority at



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