Link2UI wins $7M grant to study autonomous vehicles in rural Iowa

A map showing the route for the UI's study of autonomous vehicles on rural roads. CREDIT UI
The University of Iowa has won $7 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to test the safe integration of automated driving systems (ADS) on the nation's roadways.

The award comes as part of $60 million in federal funding for eight demonstration projects across the country that aim to gather safety data and inform rulemaking ahead of the widespread arrival of autonomous vehicles.

The UI's project, called ADS for Rural America, will focus on testing ADS applications for the aging rural population. Developed in partnership with the Iowa Department of Transportation and Iowa State University, ADS for Rural America will drive a custom-built, mobility-friendly Ford Starlite Transit van equipped with automation technologies across a loop spanning Hills, Riverside and Kalona.

The project is structured around eight phases over 2.5 years, each of which will add automation systems and complexity, allowing researchers to compare data across phases as the level of automation increases. Biometric sensors inside the vehicle will also track occupant comfort and emotional states during the drives.

The hope is that ADS for Rural America data will not only help advance the current state of automated vehicle technologies, but also show how they can help support aging and transportation-challenged populations like those in rural Eastern Iowa, according to the UI's project proposal.

The USDOT received 73 project proposals in all for this funding opportunity. To see the full list of projects granted funding, and the UI's detailed proposal, visit
In the CBJ: Indian Creek's 'Living Building' joins an elite club 
An active solar power panel at Indian Creek Nature Center's Amazing Space.
Three years after opening its new Amazing Space in Cedar Rapids, the Indian Creek Nature Center has delivered the goods on its sustainable design claims.

The nature education facility at 5300 Otis Road SE is now the first in Iowa and one of only 31 buildings worldwide to receive Living Building Challenge Petal Certification from the International Living Future Institute.
Indian Creek Executive Director John Myers said the nonprofit started its Amazing Space project by considering pursuit of the popular LEED certification for sustainability.

"But while LEED is a wonderful program that has advanced sustainable building and design, LEED still has a negative environmental impact," Mr. Myers said. "And so we needed to look to an organization, a certification, that was 20 years ahead, at minimum, of where the current building standards are."

One of the main differences between the two certifications, Mr. Myers said, is that Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification requires an extensive period of documentation following the opening of a facility. That focuses on verifying performance metrics submitted in the application for things like water usage, electricity usage and generation, and indoor air quality.

Amazing Space Project Manager Jean Wiedenheft spent well over 1,000 hours documenting the facility's performance, tracking records on electricity consumption, the amount of electricity generated by its large solar power system, and the amount of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, inside the building.

The process ordinarily takes about a year, but setbacks like a broken water meter that couldn't be replaced quickly required resetting the monitoring process, Ms. Wiedenheft said.

The Seattle-based institute certified the nature center in six of the seven petals required for full Living Building Challenge certification. 

Read the full members-only story in this week's print or digital editions of the CBJ. 

Iowa City nonprofits Public Space One (PS1) and Public Access Television - Channel 18 (PATV) have announced plans to merge into a single organization designed to provide enhanced access to a variety of media, digital production and creative support services across Johnson County.

The new organization will live under the PS1 name, and integrate the assets, facilities and resources of both groups, including the current PATV studio at 206 Lafayette St., and the new PS1 facility at 225/229 N. Gilbert St. PATV will discontinue its local broadcasting operations, however, and focus instead on offering public access to digital video, audio and web creation resources. This digital content will be available for broadcast through live streaming, social media and other web channels.

The new PS1 will be led by John Engelbrecht, the current executive director of PS1, while its board will include several board members from the current PATV organization.

"The missions of our organizations overlap in supporting community-created media and beyond," Mr. Engelbrecht said in a release. "We intend to carry that legacy forward and enhance it by offering the community access to digital media tools, education and programming. Combined with the current creative opportunities, resources and programs offered by PS1, this new organization will continue to be a valuable resource to the local Johnson County community."

Current operations at PATV will be suspended soon, with a brief transition period to follow.

Tom Nothnagle, president and board chair with PATV, said that the organization's integration with PS1 will "continue to provide access to production and distribution of localized content for the local Johnson County community, and avoid having that valuable service fade away."

PATV has been broadcasting public access content for the past 25 years, while PS1 was founded in 2002 to provide an independent and inclusive space for making and producing art. 
Story3Movers & Shakers: Week of 9.16.19
For the complete list of this week's Movers & Shakers, see the Sept.16 edition of the CBJ.

Fleet Farm officially opened its first Corridor store today at 4650 Cross Pointe Blvd. NE, Cedar Rapids, following a pre-opening for friends and family on Tuesday evening.

A grand opening scheduled for Friday will feature free hats for the first 500 customers and an in-store scavenger hunt with prizes.

The 192,000-square-foot store features more than 120,000 products in departments that include farm supplies, automotive, clothing, grocery, fishing, hunting and outdoor products, household goods, pet supplies and many others. It also features unique in-store services such as chip key programming, key duplication and water quality testing.

Based in Appleton, Wisconsin, Fleet Farm operates 43 stores across the Midwest and offers in-store pickup for online orders, with staff to load bulky items in customer vehicles.

"Our customers sometimes joke that if you can't find it at Fleet Farm, you don't need it," said company President Derick Prelle, speaking at the pre-opening event.

The store is open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays. Auto center hours are 7 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays.

Donald Holzer is store leader for the staff of about 200.
Sept. 18
North Liberty Roundtable, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, noon-1 p.m., McDonald's, 675 Pacha Parkway, North Liberty. Members are invited to network and keep up to date with chamber and community events. Free. To register, visit

Sept. 18-19
Creating a Culture Connection, by Association for Talent Development, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Mount Mercy University Graduate Center, 1650 Matterhorn Drive NE, Cedar Rapids. This workshop is intended to boost employee engagement, productivity, collaboration and innovation. Facilitated by Michael and Katie Stallard, of the Connection Culture Group. Ticket prices vary. To register, visit

Sept. 19
DIY Digital Marketing Tactics - The Basics, by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, 8-9:15 a.m., Economic Alliance, 501 First St. SE. Learn how to create a roadmap of digital marketing activities, a list of "must haves" for different types of businesses and what activities are best for in-house production. Free. To register,

Loft Startup Exchange Meetup, by Marion Economic Development Corp., 8:30-9:30 a.m., Beans Teas & Other Things, 593 62nd St., Suite 108, Marion. Lee Ulrich, owner of Beans Teas & Other Things, will host this informal meetup at his new store. For more information, call (319) 743-4724.

Business Law Bootcamp, by SCORE of East Central Iowa, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Hy-Vee, 5050 Edgewood Road NE, Cedar Rapids. The workshop will cover basic principles and offer guidance on business law. Free. To register, visit

BizMix, by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and Marion Chamber of Commerce, 4-6 p.m., Ahmann Companies, 1950 Boyson Road, Hiawatha. Join Ahmann Companies for an evening of casual networking over complimentary hors d'oeuvres and cocktails. Free. For information, visit
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Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28  
Starting Oct. 4, the state of California will prohibit state-funded and state-sponsored travel to the Hawkeye State. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra made the announcement Friday, adding Iowa to a list of 10 other states California believes passed laws discriminating against the LGBTQ community. "California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it," Mr. Becerra said. "That's why my office is adding Iowa to the list of states subject to state-funded or sponsored travel restrictions." Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas are the other states on the list. The ban stems from an Iowa law passed earlier this year by the Iowa Legislature and signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds. The law bans publicly-funded insurance like Medicaid from covering sex reassignment surgery for transgender Iowans. Ms. Reynolds said then that policy has been the state's position for a long time: "This takes it back to the way it's always been." Read the full story here.

Des Moines' main library downtown was evacuated and closed after a man walked into its atrium and set himself on fire. Police say witnesses reported the 36-year-old man doused himself with a flammable liquid just before 2 p.m. Tuesday and lit himself on fire. Library staff used a fire extinguisher to douse the flames, and the man was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment of serious burns. The man's name has not been released. No other injuries were reported. 
T hese news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28 
CBS2 First Weather Forecast
A cold front is approaching the state and producing some showers and thunderstorms. A few will be possible north of Highway 20 this morning, but chances are low. Otherwise it will be partly cloudy, warm, and muggy with temperatures in the low to mid 80s. An isolated storm or two will be possible this afternoon, but the higher chances for rain come tonight. A disturbance will move through tonight and lead to showers and thunderstorms after 2 a.m. Storms will continue into Thursday morning and wind down by the afternoon. Then it will be partly sunny, warm, and muggy with temperatures near 80.