About Iowa DOT Research

The Iowa DOT Research’s mission is to Drive a quality program that delivers targeted solutions for Iowa's transportation future . Our areas of focus include safety, mobility, accessibility, technology, and sustainability of economic, social, and environmental progress. We can help you whether you want to get involved in our research, already have an approved project in the works, or simply want to learn more about our team.

Iowa’s transportation innovations are possible with oversight and technical and financial support from a variety of sources, including the Iowa Highway Research Board, the State Planning & Research Program, and the State Transportation Innovation Council.


The Iowa DOT’s transportation research achievements are a result of numerous collaborations between Iowa DOT research staff, university researchers, technical experts, local system engineers, and industry partners.

  • 2023 Rewards

    2023 - Roadway Friction Modeling: Improving the Use of Friction Measurements in State DOTs

    Roadway friction measurements help winter maintenance managers determine when snow and ice removal is needed. While friction sensors can be an important data source, they cost too much to install on all roads. Using machine learning, this research showed that it's possible to predict road surface conditions in real time without the need for sensors.
  • 2022 Rewards

    2022 - Investigation of Autonomous and Connected Vehicles in Work Zones

    Autonomous vehicles offer the potential to save energy and increase efficiency on roadways, and could keep workers safe when used in work zones. This research used simulators to help Iowa DOT better understand how human drivers and autonomous vehicles are likely to interact in order to prepare for possible future deployments.
  • 2022 Rewards

    2022: Self-Heating Electrically Conductive Concrete Demonstration Project

    This research evaluated the performance of concrete heated with embedded electrodes over the course of three years. The concrete, which can melt snow and ice without the use of deicers, could one day be a sustainable option for icy trouble spots like sidewalks that are not easily cleared during winter storms.
  • 2021 Rewards

    2021: corn-based deicers

    Thanks to its low cost and effective work, sodium chloride is what most public transportation agencies choose for treating icy roadways. But too much road salt can also corrode metal cars and infrastructure and harm the environment. In search of alternative deicers, Iowa DOT’s research showed that those made from corn can work well to melt snow and ice on Iowa’s roads with less environmental impact.
  • 2020 Rewards

    2020: remote-controlled hydrographic survey system

    While it may look like a toy, this small, remote-controlled boat is equipped with big technology. Its small size makes it capable of navigating tight spaces easily, and its GPS, compass, and sonar provide a three-dimensional view of everything below the water—meaning engineers can inspect bridge structures safely from the shore without ever having to get into deep, murky, or fast-moving waters.
  • 2018 Rewards

    2018: traumahawk

    TraumaHawk is a smartphone app that allows first responders to collect and send crash photos to emergency room personnel. With advanced notification and a better understanding of the severity of the victims’ injuries, doctors, nurses and other staff can be better prepared with life-saving treatments.
  • 2016 Rewards

    2016: development of self-cleaning box culvert design: phase ii

    This two-phase project began in 2009, with Iowa DOT reevaluating every aspect of traditional culverts in an effort to find better ways to keep the state’s waterways clean. The work involved testing a variety of culvert formations over several years and led to an innovative culvert design that restricts sediment from entering and virtually eliminates the need for manual cleaning. In the second phase, researchers retrofitted an existing culvert with the new design to test its performance and verify the anticipated findings in the field.
  • 2015 Rewards

    2015: track-a-plow

    Iowa DOT developed a snowplow tracking website to give members of the public real-time safety information and insight into where the agency's snowplows are operating, the types and quantities of deicing materials being used, and what road conditions look like through cameras affixed to the plows windshields.
  • 2014 Rewards

    2014: western iowa missouri river flooding – geo-infrastructure damage assessment, repair, and mitigation strategies

    The 2011 flood of the Missouri River caused millions of dollars' worth of visible damage to Iowa's roads and infrastructure, but it also water also wreaked extensive destruction below the surface that couldn’t be seen. This project identified a variety of advanced technologies, such as ground-penetrating radar and 3D laser scanning, that Iowa DOT can deploy to quickly gauge the extent of all damage caused during future flooding events, as well as strategies to reduce infrastructure vulnerability and expedite recovery.
  • 2013 Rewards

    2013: evaluation of the rapidair 457 air void analyzer

    Iowa DOT routinely tests concrete pavement samples for adequate air voids, a key factor affecting the pavement’s long-term durability. This project evaluated the accuracy and reliability of the RapidAir 457 air void analyzer, a device that offers to automate the testing process and save time and money over traditional methods. .



Reducing transportation fatalities and serious injuries through system-wide, multimodal, data-driven, and proactive strategies.


Improving the accessibility, reliability, time, and costs associated with the movement of people and goods.


Considering how transportation supports economic, social, and environmental progress with a long-term perspective.


Evaluation both current and potential technologies and incorporating them effectively into existing agency functions.

Core Values


Searching beyond the status quo.


Working together to create value.


Doing the right things for the right reasons.


Bringing order to complexity.


Login  |  ©  Iowa Department of Transportation.  All rights reserved.