Iowa City driving simulator awarded $1.45 million to research automated vehicles

The National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) in Iowa City has been awarded $1.45 million from the National Highway Safety Administration through the U.S. Department of Transportation to study transition control in automated vehicles.

Transition control allows humans to take back control from the automation vehicle. In some vehicles, there are features that allow the vehicle to perform parts of driving tasks under certain conditions like traffic jams. The organization is researching the amount of time it takes vehicle automation to warn the driver that they need to take control, and the amount of time it takes the human to disengage what they’re doing and become completely aware of the state of automation.

John Gaspar is the director of human factors research at NADS and is the lead researcher for the project.

“This builds nicely on previous research we’ve been doing for years with NHTSA on other transition of control models,” said Gaspar in a release. “We have the perfect toolkit with the NADS-1 simulator to do this study. Its motion base will allow us to study the complete transition of control from the automated system back to the human driver.”

In a related study, this past spring, NADS was also awarded $7 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to examine automated driving on rural roads, as well as passengers’ perceptions and acceptance of the technology.

The project—called Automated Driving Systems (ADS) for Rural America—will recruit individuals in from local communities to be passengers in the automated mobility van. Those recruited will be age 65 and older or have a disability that affects their mobility. Researchers will study the individuals’ comfort levels and perceptions of the technology. It will be driven by a safety driver on a 47-mile route through Iowa City, Hills, Riverside and Kalona beginning likely in summer 2021.