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Graduate students propose plans to prepare Iowa City for self-driving vehicles

Graduate students with the University of Iowa's School of Urban and Regional Planning seek...
Graduate students with the University of Iowa's School of Urban and Regional Planning seek input from the public after their school year's work preparing four potential plans to prepare for autonomous vehicles in Iowa City as a means for public transit. (Aaron Scheinblum, KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Mar. 7, 2019 at 7:47 PM CST
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A group of graduate students at the University of Iowa are focusing on the potential for self-driving vehicles- and it is their ultimate plan to give their research to city officials in Iowa City to build for the future.

Students in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Iowa provided the public with a presentation of their capstone project; they called it "Transportation Now and Tomorrow: Planning Your Iowa City." Its goal was an effort to prepare city leaders and city residents with potential plans for autonomous vehicles.

Those involved put their planning into simple terms, describing it as an opportunity to take advantage of the roads and infrastructure in place, rather than expanding it.

Students held an open house at the Iowa City Public Library to present their school year's worth of work. Plans focused around a more public availability to self-driving vehicles, expanding on public transit while also potentially creating partnerships with private businesses.

Plan ideas included creating a self-driving public transit system that would bring people directly from one point to another, or using data from rideshare companies like Uber or Lyft to determine where a higher availability of driver-less cars should be more accessible.

For graduate students like Jeremy Williams, he said the goal is to create a plan now for the technology that could soon become more widespread.

"[We want] a transportation system in which automated vehicles play a role that address the mobility challenges and mitigate the mobility challenges that current residents are facing," Williams said. "While ensuring equal access to all the amenities and economic opportunities the city has to offer."

The group of students offered up four potential scenarios. The public voted on which idea they liked the best.

Williams said they will take the responses from the public to fine-tune their plan before they graduate.

Their final step will be to hand over their research to city leaders to shift focus towards to future.