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National Advanced Driving Simulator receives grant to
address safety issues prioritized by U.S. DOT

The University of Iowa National Advanced Driving Simulator has been selected to receive a $1.4 million University Transportation Center grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Research and Innovative Technology Administration. The grant provides funding to the Safety Research Using Simulation (SAFER-SIM) center in the first year, with up to $7 million in funding over five years.

The center is comprised of a multidisciplinary, synergistic team of researchers in human factors, engineering, computer science, and psychology who will use innovative simulation approaches ranging from microsimulation to human-in-the-loop simulation to address the U.S. DOT research priority area of Promoting Safety. SAFER-SIM will sponsor research, outreach activities in STEM areas, and aid workforce development efforts in transportation safety, including:

  • Automated vehicles technology
  • Connected vehicles technology
  • Vulnerable road users
  • Roadway infrastructure design
  • Distributed simulation technology

SAFER-SIM will fully engage students at all levels of research and disseminate findings and techniques to the research community, safety professionals, and the general public.

The center’s multidisciplinary and multimodal approach to understanding the role that humans play in a complex, ever-changing transportation environment will lead to advances in road safety research, particularly with respect to hastening the adoption of new technologies (e.g., automated and connected vehicles) to reduce conflicts between drivers and vulnerable road users.

“I am continually impressed by the great work done at the University of Iowa’s SAFER-SIM to help make our roads and communities safer,” says U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack of Iowa's 2nd Congressional District. “I am pleased to join with the University of Iowa in announcing that they have secured a $1.4 million grant from the US Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Center grant program. Funding like this is critical for these folks to continue their important work of ensuring Iowa’s roads are made safer every day.”

The research will also provide critical information about how drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians interact with infrastructure and technologies that will enhance safety planning for all users.

The SAFER-SIM center is one of 32 centers funded following a highly competitive process which drew 212 applications, with only six recipients receiving funds in the “Promoting Safety” priority area. Dawn Marshall, research manager at NADS, will serve as overall center director and as director of activities at the UI. From the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Dr. Joseph Kearney, Computer Science, and Dr. Jodie Plumert, Psychological and Brain Sciences, will serve as associate directors and will oversee the research activities of the center.

Consortium members include:

  • University of Iowa (Lead institution)
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Wisconsin – Madison
  • University of Massachusetts – Amherst
  • University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez

The National Advanced Driving Simulator is a unit of the UI Center for Computer-Aided Design ( at the University of Iowa.


Dawn Marshall, NADS Research Manager, 319-335-4774
Hayley Bruce, Office of Strategic Communication, 319-384-0072

“I am continually impressed by the great work done at the University of Iowa’s SAFER-SIM to help make our roads and communities safer,”

Dave Loebsack

U.S. Congressman

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