Progress on Governor Walker’s Autonomous Vehicle Committee

 

Governor Walker’s Steering Committee on Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Testing and Deployment continues to make progress. Governor Walker created the committee in the fall of 2017 and tasked it with identifying state agencies that have jurisdiction to support the testing of autonomous vehicles and coordinate with them, reviewing existing statutory and administrative code that needs to change to facilitate the testing of autonomous vehicles, identify roadways for the testing of vehicles, and identify relevant stakeholders and partnerships to help implement this technology.

The committee’s March 28th meeting in Madison included three presentations:

First, the former mayor of Madison and director emeritus of the Wisconsin Bike Fed, Dave Cieslewicz, highlighted that while the Bike Fed generally supports the advancement of autonomous vehicle testing, he believes technological advancements are needed to recognize and protect pedestrians and bicyclists.

Second, Anne Marie Lewis from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers discussed current technological changes being researched and implemented by automotive manufacturers that will help make autonomous vehicles a reality. Ms. Lewis used the GM Cruise as an example of innovative technology current under development. The GM cruise is an autonomous electric car with no steering wheel or brake pedal. Beyond technological advances being made by auto manufacturers, Ms. Lewis also discussed infrastructure upgrades that would benefit both autonomous and regular vehicles including lane markings, improved crosswalks, better notification of speed bumps and construction zones, and standards for traffic signals and signs.

The third and final presenter was Ernie Perry of the MidAmerican Freight Coalition. Mr. Perry discussed truck platooning, a practice involving two or more trucks that “platoon” together where the lead driver controls the speed and general navigation of the truck(s) behind it. Statutory changes necessary to allow the practice were recently signed into law by Governor Walker.

At the April 25th meeting there were three additional presentations:

First, Sheryl Gross-Glasser, a Senior Program Associate at Community Transportation Association of America, provided a non-experts perspective into automated vehicle issues across the country. Members of the committee asked a series of questions regarding rural connectivity and para-transit (transportation services for people with disabilities that supplement fixed-route public transportation services) versus micro-transit (ride sharing networks that supplement public transportation).

Second, Kristina Boardman, an Administrator at the WisDot DMV, gave a presentation discussing the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators’ process for putting together best practices for autonomous vehicles. The report focuses on drivers (licensing, testing and education), vehicles (registration, identification, etc.), and law enforcement considerations. The report will be released in the next few weeks.

Third, Trooper Tracy Drager from the Wisconsin State Patrol discussed how autonomous vehicle data would be collected by law enforcement. She stated that law enforcement would be at a disadvantage if there were an accident that was blamed on the automated vehicle because of concerns that “manufacturers hold all the cards.” Trooper Drager shared concerns about the cost for law enforcement to access the information independently.  For example, law enforcement is concerned about having to purchase their own tools to extract the data from an EDR.  She voiced concerns about hacking and cybersecurity.

The Committee plans on creating a draft plan prior to its May 23rd meeting and finalize a plan at its June 30th meeting. There is discussion of extending the committee’s work beyond June 30th.