Education

University of Iowa awarded $7 million from US DOT to test driverless technologies

A driver sits inside an autonomous vehicle as part of the University of Iowa's Human Factors and Vehicle Safety Research Program. (University of Iowa photo)
A driver sits inside an autonomous vehicle as part of the University of Iowa's Human Factors and Vehicle Safety Research Program. (University of Iowa photo)

The University of Iowa will put to use a $7.03 million grant it received from the U.S. Department of Transportation to test how automated driving systems safely can be introduced on the state’s roads.

The university was among eight educational institutions and government entities to receive a combined $60 million, with a focus on gathering safety data that can inform rule making on driverless technologies, the DOT announced Wednesday.

The DOT will “test the safe integration of automated vehicles into America’s transportation system while ensuring that legitimate concerns about safety, security and privacy are addressed,” DOT Secretary Elaine Chao said.

The $7.03 million grant will go toward UI’s Automated Driving Systems for the Rural America project, a two-and-half-year initiative to produce public data using a custom, mobility-friendly vehicle with advanced technologies.

The UI has partnered Iowa State University and the state Department of Transportation, hoping both to prepare Eastern Iowa for automated cars and make its existing roadway system safer.

Though 19 percent of Americans live in rural areas, nearly 50 percent of traffic deaths occur on rural roads, project staff have said.

Other DOT grant recipients hailed from California, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

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