Gov. Walker’s Autonomous Vehicle Committee Continues to Collect Information

Gov. Scott Walker’s Steering Committee on Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Testing and Deployment held their sixth meeting on March 28 in Madison. Over the next few months, the committee will draft a report with recommendations to the governor on how to coordinate testing and operation of autonomous and connected vehicles on Wisconsin’s roadways. The report is due June 30.

March’s meeting included three presentations from various stakeholders. The committee first heard from Dave Cieslewicz, the former mayor of Madison and the current emeritus director of the Wisconsin Bike Fed. Cieslewicz stated that generally, the Bike Fed supports the advancement of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology but recognizes there are still significant advancements needed for AV vehicles to recognize bikes and pedestrians. Cieslewicz offered several recommendations for the committee to consider as it relates to bike and pedestrians and AV technology, including more field testing, reinstating the Wisconsin Complete Streets law, and requiring the consideration of pedestrian and bike needs during road reconstruction. Cieslewicz also shared some thoughts with the committee based on his experiences as former mayor of Madison. He urged the committee to consider how car sharing services may impact the need for parking structures in Wisconsin municipalities and the role of AV vehicles in delivering social services.

The next presenter was Anne Marie Lewis from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. The focus of her presentation examined various technical changes for AV deployment and adoption, as well barriers for Automotive Driving Systems (ADS) equipped vehicle deployment. Lewis provided the committee some insight on current design innovations, like the GM Cruise, that are in development. The GM Cruise has no steering wheel or brake pedal and is intended to primarily be used for ride sharing.

Lewis also provided the committee with some considerations on infrastructure needs – stating that overall, infrastructure improvements will benefit both non-AV and AV vehicles. These include lane markings, real-time updates on construction zones, improved intersection crosswalks, notification of speed bumps, and standards for traffic signals and signs. Lewis also discussed the aspect of digital infrastructure – citing benefits for information on planned construction, weather, traffic, and police and emergency information.

The committee also heard briefly on some policy barriers in Wisconsin identified by Auto Alliance members. Lewis stated this is a developing list and that she is still collecting feedback from members. However, she urged the committee to consider any provisions that assume a human driver, such as licensing, accident scene requirements, seatbelt requirements and unattended vehicle provisions. She also briefly covered the activity on the federal level, including comments that were collected by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Highway Administration, and Federal Transit Administration. Lewis informed the committee that the federal Department of Transportation will be convening stakeholder meetings soon.

Lewis provided an overview of next steps including continued engagement on the federal level, interval points for technology to advance despite the long federal rule making process, and more vehicle testing to collect real world data.

The final presenter was Ernie Perry from the MidAmerican Freight Coalition. His presentation focused on truck platooning through connected technology. Perry highlighted the benefits of platooning, especially on high volume corridors. He also cited information on collision avoidance systems and technology needs for platooning.

The committee adjourned the meeting after the final presentation and will meet again on April 25, 2018.