Iowa Agrees to Transform Highway Corridor into Autonomous Vehicle Test Site

The stretch of Interstate 380 between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids is poised to be the very first in the state to be fully mapped out for eventual autonomous vehicle traffic.

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) has entered into a multiphase project with Chicago’s HERE company to collect the data and develop the platform needed to guide autonomous vehicles, according to a Monday announcement from HERE.

Andrea Henry, director of strategic communications for the Iowa DOT, on Monday confirmed that the state and HERE have partnered to use the company’s high-definition mapping services to begin the data-collection process on I-380.

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A project cost was not immediately available, but Henry said the project will be the first of its kind in the state.

“We’re really excited about it for Iowa,” Henry said. “We definitely have our eye to expand it in the future, but this is kind of our first phase.”

Mapping on I-380 should begin early next year, she said. Henry added that the portion of I-380 to be mapped, one of the busiest in the area, was chosen because it provides an example of both rural and urban traffic. Data on factors like weather and traffic congestion also will be collected.

Essentially, the project will entail advanced measurements and data collection to create the necessary information to guide automated vehicle and freight movement technologies.

“This project lays the foundation for the future of transportation and mobility in Iowa. We are going to tackle the key technical and practical challenges of connected and automated vehicle deployments in real-world conditions,” Iowa DOT Director Paul Trombino III said in the statement.

Officials say the project is the first in many steps to make automated driving a reality in Iowa.

“Iowa is taking a leadership role in answering important questions about how transportation agencies prepare for and facilitate the adoption of automated vehicles,” Monali Shah, Director of Global Intelligent Transportation at HERE, said in

the statement. “We look forward to leveraging our advanced location technologies to help human drivers drive more effectively today and enable automated vehicles as they become available.”

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