AMES – Driverless cars are no longer an idea for the future. There’s a bill that’s working it’s way through the statehouse right now that would outline the rules and regulations for automated cars to be on Iowa roads.
And the Iowa DOT is a few steps ahead of them with plans on how to implement the new technology.
“We are working with other states, other car manufacturers to see what our needs are,” said Adam Shell, the automated transportation program manager at Iowa DOT. “Do we need wider pavement markings, better signage so the machines can read or understand what’s happening out on the transportation system.”
The DOT has been working closely with the National Advanced Driving Simulator Lab at the University of Iowa.
“Ive been in one of the cars, it’s pretty awesome, but again they still have to have a human operator in the vehicle,” said Shell.
Local 5 spoke to the program director, Daniel McGehee, over the phone about their advancements. He says the cutting edge technology is giving a drivers a second set of eyes. And hopefully these cars will prevent crashes in the future.
“That’s what we spend our day’s doing is understanding how crashes occur and then developing technology from the crashes and how they are occuring all together, and try and lessen their severity,” said Dr. Daniel McGehee, the director of the National Advanced Driving Simulator.
And the DOT agrees, the futuristic cars will bring more convenience and efficiency, but that’s not the number one goal.
“The biggest thing has to be the potential for improvement with safety,” said Shell. “I actually live an hour and a half away from here so I drive a lot and there is clearly distraction everywhere, it’s not just your cell phone.”
Several car manufactures already sell vehicles with assisted parking. Some of them will also break for you if you get too close to something. The experts don’t think we’ll see fully autonomus vehicles on the roads for another twenty to fifty years.