Univ. of Iowa researchers become one of the first to test driverless bus on rural roads

Published: Jun. 13, 2023 at 5:38 PM CDT
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CORALVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) - The University of Iowa is shared their results on a self-driven bus that has traveled hundreds of miles throughout rural Iowa. It’s called Automated Driving Systems for Rural Iowa and over the last two and a half years, researchers have studied the benefits and challenges of having a driverless transit in rural areas.

The bus they used is equipped with multiple pieces of equipment to make sure passengers get from point A to point B on almost any type of road.

“It approaches certain situations in a much more cautious way than a human driver would look,” said Senior Systems Administrator, Steve Cable. “We have six different imaging cameras, we have a road censor to look at the state of the road if there is ice or rain or snow, what the thickness of it is.”

The Driving Safety Research Institute has collected data on the bus’s ability to navigate those different weather conditions, as well as different lighting conditions, and pavement and gravel.

Deputy Director Omar Ahmad says one of the biggest benefits they found was the amount of people they could reach in rural communities.

“It can drive itself on paved roadways with good lane markings, bad lane markings, with no lane markings, gravel, in intersections it can read the state of traffic signals,” said Ahmad.

Now that the study is done, they hope the findings can assist automated vehicle companies across the country.

“We have been sharing our results with the government, with the industry, with the research community, and we are hopeful that they will take our results and use that to improve the capability of these technologies.”