Iowa DOT Using Digital ID’s, Expect Driverless Vehicles On Iowa Roads in Two Years

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AMES, Iowa--Iowa driver`s licenses are already going digital.  "You can`t get it in California, New York, Florida or Georgia.  You can only get it in the state of Iowa."

Iowa Department of Transportation Director Paul Trombino says Iowa is the first state to offer a prototype for digital licenses currently being used by Iowa DOT employees.  The new licenses which will only be optional and not mandatory are fitted with even more secure technology than the card version.

Trombino explained,  "I use a fingerprint to open up my phone that can help authorize that.  You may have to make a facial movement so it`s not just looking at a picture in order to open up the biometric perspective, so only you can open that up."  If that isn't secure enough, "The picture physically moves, so it`s not a static picture like your regular driver`s license," said Trombino.

Tim Gillie, who was visiting Iowa on a cross country trip from Virginia said the the technology being used first in Iowa came as a surprise to him.  "Iowa being the first?  That`s kind of different for me to hear.  It doesn`t seem like Iowa has been the first in a whole lot of things at least in my understanding ,but it sounds new and exciting."

Some Iowans were already excited about their I.D. going digital.  Elijah Jobes, from Indianola said, "It would probably be more convenient. If you lose your wallet you won`t have to buy a new license."

The Iowa DOT isn`t stopping there.  They plan to roll out a project to get driver-less vehicles fully functioning on Iowa roads.  Trombino says first they'll need to prep them.

"They need to have very clear pavement markings because they read pavement markings and signs and all that.The second thing is they need high definition mapping and that`s mapping down to the centimeter level."

Those vehicles without anyone behind the wheel are coming sooner than you think.

"I would say in the next two years,"said Trombino.  The projects could make Iowa a leader of the pack.  "We think the sooner we can make good decisions to do the right thing to offer these opportunities for businesses and citizens in the state, let alone companies not in the state to come here, it`s just a win-win for the state of Iowa.

The Iowa DOT plans for another ninety days of testing the digital licenses with software designed by MorphoTrust, before expanding to people outside the department and they are currently partnering with the University of Iowa as they prepare for driver-less vehicles in the future.