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.

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

Rural route map: Iowa City, Hills, Riverside, Kalona loop

Project update: Webinar, 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 bus at AutonomouStuff

AutonomouStuff case study: Automated Driving Systems for Rural America

Our tech partners AutonomouStuff in Morton, Illinois, have been busy with the final software integration and testing of our new automated vehicle, set to hit Iowa rural roads this summer.
ADS Transit with labels

Project update: Equipment installed on new research vehicle

The Transit shuttle bus for the University of Iowa's ADS for Rural America project has been equipped with automated driving technology by Illinois-based AutonomouStuff.

Subscribe

Subscribe to our email newsletter to receive periodic project updates. 

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.