Des Moines Register reporter Matthew Patane visited the University of Iowa's National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) to learn more about how the facility is helping keep drivers out of

trouble -- the idea behind Iowa's autonomous car program.

Patane spent time with Dan McGehee, the new director of NADS, and with Omar Ahmad, NADS deputy director, where he found out Iowa also is working to produce virtual cities that will help test autonomous vehicles and highly detailed mapping programs that self-driven cars would rely on to be able to properly assess the streets and roads.

A digital testing ground, named Springfield, was showcased as a way to combine roadways and neighborhoods in one.  Springfield is about 285 virtual square miles — bigger than Chicago and more than three times the size of Des Moines. It comes with more than 230 miles of roads, more than 170 intersections and more than 140 traffic signals, according to the University of Iowa.

To read the complete Des Moines Register story, go to http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/tech/2016/07/26/how-iowa-paving-way-self-driving-cars/86809938/.