National Advanced Driving Simulator examines how self-driving cars will hold up on Iowa roads

Whether studying the effects of texting and driving or monitoring drivers under the influence of marijuana, The National Advanced Driving Simulator is helping crews at the University of Iowa get ready for the future.

"We are all about studying the driver’s behavior and better understand how humans interact with new vehicle technologies,” says Omar Ahmad, Deputy Director.

The National Advanced Driving Simulator has been operating since 2001 and is the largest one of its kind in the country.

"(Right now) what we're working on is a collaboration with the Iowa Department of Transportation. We're looking at how automated vehicles technologies can be used to make our roads safer," says Ahmad.

It's also an opportunity for the facility to see how self-driving cars can handle roads in the Midwest.

"We have roadways that are smooth and paved like Interstate 80 but we also have many rural roads and gravel roads that don't have a lot of marking.... How will these (automated vehicles) operate in these environments.”

It's the kind of life-saving work that has kept Dawn Marshall working in the facility in 14 years.

“There’s a lot more work with automated vehicles coming on the road,” says Marshall.

Re-creating some of the worst road conditions to protect drivers from the unexpected.

The National Advanced Driving Simulator plans to publish their findings on the performance of self-driving cars on Iowa roads in the next six to nine months.

The largest driving simulator in the world is owned by Toyota in Japan.