ADS Transit shuttle bus on gravel road

Automated Driving Systems (ADS) for Rural America

ADS for Rural America is a project that will test the use of a custom vehicle with advanced automated technologies on rural roadways—set to begin in late summer 2021. Rural roads present unique challenges and are currently underrepresented in ADS research today. At the same time, the project will study ADS applications for aging, transportation-challenged rural populations aimed at improving their mobility and quality of life.

Goals

1. Improve safety on our nation’s roadways with the integration of Automated Driving Systems (ADS). ADS technologies show promise of greater safety on our roadways, as 94% of all crashes are due to human factors or errors.

2. Represent rural roadways in AV research. Rural roads present unique challenges:

  • Sharp curves and grades
  • Limited sight distances
  • Gravel, unpaved roads without lane markings
  • Slow-moving vehicles on the road, such as farm equipment
  • Animals on the road
  • Extreme weather conditions

Due to the complexity of rural environments, most AV testing and mapping has been focused on urban, clearly‐marked roads. We're doing rural testing for rural solutions.

3. Broaden mobility: Show how automated vehicles can provide transportation options for those not able to drive, such as aging populations and those with disabilities. We aim to connect those people in rural areas to the services they need. Since public transportation is often scarce or non-existent in rural areas, mobility means independence and can significantly improve quality of life.

While 19% of Americans live in rural areas, nearly 50% of traffic fatalities occur on rural roads.

Video overview

News

Speaking with community members at the Johnson County Fair

Summer outreach events

We've had a great time so far this summer attending local outreach events to talk to people about our ADS for Rural America project. We've been to three of the four communities along our project route: Riverside, Hills, and Iowa City.
Automated shuttle bus on gravel road

Photo Gallery: ADS for Rural America

Learn more about our ADS for Rural America project and our newly-equipped Ford Transit shuttle bus, set to be on Iowa roads later this summer.
Rural route map: Iowa City, Hills, Riverside, Kalona loop

Project update: Webinar, Hexagon | AutonomouStuff case study

Read our latest newsletter update, with an article from our partners at AutonomouStuff in Morton, Illinois, an upcoming webinar with our researchers, and a note on our dedication to safety.  
ADS for Rural America

This $7 million project is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and is spearheaded by researchers at the National Advanced Driving Simulator at the University of Iowa.