Automated Transportation


In Iowa, we view automated transportation as having four key components.

Automation inside car

Multi-Modal Systems: connected & automated vehicles

Today’s transportation system serves a wide variety of travel modes, users, and vehicle types. The transportation and automotive industry both recognize that achieving higher levels of safety and efficiency requires even more vehicles enabled with systems that correct and assist driver performance. These new capabilities are made possible through advanced on-board systems that are enabled by cameras, radars, and a range of other sensors that assist driver in real time through monitoring the roadway environment and driver tasks.

While there is some form of automation present or being pursued in all modes of travel, the focus in this context is automation on the surface (roadway) transportation system. Lastly, while technology continues to evolve, some key automation use cases have been identified to support freight (automated trucking – long haul/middle mile, small personal delivery devices), transit (fixed-route or on-demand), individual travel (commercial or privately owned passenger vehicles), and agency operations (roadway maintenance vehicles). 

overhead on traffic

Infrastructure Systems: digital and physical

While roads, bridges, and other physical infrastructure are important to the transportation system, so too are other forms of infrastructure, those that are digital in nature – technology that supports communication, data, and the transmission of data to enable connectivity between a traffic management center, vehicles, or infrastructure.

Des Moines Capitol

Institutional Systems: enabling policy and supporting services

Critical components not typically recognized are the institutional systems – such things as the enabling policy that allows for the operation of automated vehicles or devices on public roads and other support functions such as roadway maintenance and vehicle registration and titling.

Busy highway

Communities, Businesses, & Travelers

The three system components above will need to be enabled or upgraded/retrofitted to support one another to integrate and allow the use of automated transportation modes on public roadway systems by communities, businesses, and travelers. These system interactions will be critical to ensure successful deployment and the safe integration of connected and automated vehicles and infrastructure.


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