The National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) is the most sophisticated research driving simulator in the world. Developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the NADS offers high-fidelity, real-time driving simulation. It consists of a large dome in which entire cars and the cabs of trucks and buses can be mounted. The vehicle cabs are equipped electronically and mechanically using instrumentation specific to their make and model.At the same time, the motion system, on which the dome is mounted, will provide 400 square meters of horizontal and longitudinal travel and nearly 360 degrees of rotation in either direction. The effect will be that the driver will feel acceleration, braking and steering cues as if he or she were actually driving a real car, truck or bus.
nads testing The latest in visual display technology and a high-fidelity audio system will complete the driving experience. The test subject will be immersed in sight, sound and movement so real that impending crash scenarios can be convincingly presented with no danger to the subject. Vehicle and driver data can be accurately gathered and stored and tests repeated with exactitude. TRW was awarded the construction contract after winning the design competition conducted by NHTSA. TRW assembled a world-class team that incorporated the latest in simulation technology in all aspects of the design for the $50 million project. The team included Dynamic Research, Inc., Evans & Sutherland, I*SIM and MTS Systems.

The NADS is located at the University of Iowa's Oakdale Research Park, Iowa City, IA. The site was selected as a result of a national competition among major transportation research universities conducted for NHTSA by the National Science Foundation. The University of Iowa provided $11.58 million in cost sharing to the NADS project, which included the design and construction of a $5.7 million building to house the simulator.

The effects of alcohol, drugs, visual impairments and aging on driving will all be safely studied using the new research tool. The NADS will provide the capability for evaluating advanced vehicle communication, navigation and control technologies which are now being developed as part of the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) program. The medical community will look to the NADS to answer questions about the development and effects of new medicines and prosthetics on driving. Car companies can use the NADS to develop and test new safety devices, in conjunction with their own simulators. Human factors issues, estimated to be a contributing cause of 90 percent of motor vehicle accidents, will finally be able to be studied in a safe, accurate and repeatable environment.