Now is an exciting time, as automated vehicles and safety technologies are revolutionizing our roadways. And Iowa is helping to lead the way in transforming how we get from place to place.

In January 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation named the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids corridor and the University of Iowa’s (UI) National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) as one of 10 designated automated vehicle proving ground (AVPG) sites in the nation. The designation encourages testing and information sharing around automated vehicle technologies in the region and is the logical next step in an effort to advance the safe deployment of more highly automated vehicle technology.

For now, we’re calling ourselves the Iowa AVPG (stay tuned for details as our vision evolves). We were created and are guided through a collaborative partnership between the Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD), UI NADS, and Iowa DOT. And it’s our diversity that sets us apart. Unlike other proving grounds, the corridor features a variety in climate, road users, and roadway landscapes, including the nation’s largest and most expansive simulated virtual proving ground at NADS.

Being named an AVPG is a tremendous opportunity for the corridor. The 10 U.S. proving ground designees were selected from a competitive group of more than 60 applicants,which included academic institutions, state departments of transportation, cities, and private entities and partnerships. Each proving grounds designee has different facilities that can be used to gauge safety, manage different roadways and conditions, and handle various types of vehicles. The proving grounds will provide critical insights and serve as a foundation for building a community of practice around automated vehicle research.