The stretch of Interstate 380 between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids is poised to be the first in the state to be fully mapped for eventual autonomous vehicle traffic.
The Iowa Department of Transportation and Chicago’s HERE company have entered into a deal to collect data and develop the platform needed to someday guide autonomous vehicles.
Iowa DOT spokeswoman Andrea Henry said this week that the company’s high-definition mapping services will be used to begin the data collection on I-380.
A project cost was not immediately available.
“We’re really excited about it for Iowa,” Henry said. “We definitely have our eye to expand it in the future, but this is kind of our first phase.”
Mapping on I-380 should begin early next year, she said. Henry said the portion of I-380 to be mapped, one of the busiest in the area, was chosen because it provides both rural and urban traffic. Data on factors like weather and traffic congestion also will be collected.
Essentially, the project will entail advanced measurements to create the information needed to guide automated vehicle and freight movement technologies.
“This project lays the foundation for the future of transportation and mobility in Iowa. We are going to tackle the key technical and practical challenges of connected and automated vehicle deployments in real-world conditions,” Iowa DOT Director Paul Trombino III said in a statement.
Officials say the project is the first of many steps to make automated driving a reality in Iowa.
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“Iowa is taking a leadership role in answering important questions about how transportation agencies prepare for and facilitate the adoption of automated vehicles,” Monali Shah, director of Global Intelligent Transportation at HERE, said in a statement. “We look forward to leveraging our advanced location technologies to help human drivers drive more effectively today and enable automated vehicles as they become available.”