ADS van and Tesla

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. 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.


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.


Tesla and Ford Transit, UI automated vehicles

Creating an Automated Shuttle for America’s Backroads

An automated shuttle bus is about to hit Iowa roads next summer. Here's a brief update on our ADS for Rural America project by ADAPT, including how our vehicle is becoming automated at AutonomouStuff, LLC to how COVID-19 has impacted the project.
Iowa Magazine: The Road to the Future Runs Through Iowa

The Road to the Future Runs Through Iowa

University of Iowa researchers at the National Advanced Driving Simulator pave the way for the automated vehicles of tomorrow. But how soon before self-driving cars get here? Iowa's rural roads could hold the key.
ADS bus at AutonomouStuff
AutonomouStuff in Morton, IL, is installing equipment to turn the vehicle into an automated vehicle.

Project update: Our vehicle is now becoming automated

The University of Iowa National Advanced Driving Simulator's custom Ford Transit shuttle bus has been across the Midwest and is now being outfitted with automated driving technologies.
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.