The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us


100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0009; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: Immediate

UI awarded contract to develop, test automotive crash avoidance systems

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Public Policy Center and the UI College of Engineering Center for Computer-Aided Design (CCAD) have received an 18-month, $375,000 U.S. Department of Transportation contract to design and evaluate different types of rear-end collision avoidance displays. The project will help guide public policy in terms of safety for the design and operation of such warning systems.

Daniel McGehee, a crash safety and human factors researcher and director of human factors research at the Public Policy Center, will direct the project along with John Lee, associate professor of industrial engineering and a human factors expert.

McGehee notes that approximately 25 percent of all vehicular collisions currently result in rear-end crashes. "The project will consider both how collision-avoidance information is best presented to drivers and the equally important inner workings of the sensor and computer algorithms that tell the system how to present crash warning information," McGehee says. The research results will help automotive safety engineers design more effective rear-end collision avoidance systems.

McGehee and Lee will develop prototype in-vehicle auditory and visual displays and test the systems on the Iowa Driving Simulator. The present configuration of the Iowa Driving Simulator was completed in 1994 and is valued at about $13 million. Located in the UI College of Engineering, it is one of the most advanced driving simulators in the world. The simulator dome, enclosing a fully functional car cab, sits atop a large hexapod-shaped motion system that moves as drivers maneuver through computer-generated terrain. The roadway and terrain are projected around drivers inside the dome, giving them the feeling that they are part of the environment. "The Iowa Driving Simulator allows us to put drivers into circumstances too dangerous to test on the road," McGehee says.