RACINE — Local officials and researchers on Monday launched what they believe could be the future of transportation in Racine.
While the red and white vehicle looks like it might require a driver, it does not.
"It's completely driving itself," said Tony Piper, a lead engineer with Perrone Robotics, as he sat in the driver's seat with his hands away from the wheel.
“The Badger” will be a fully autonomous, all-electric, zero-emission shuttle that can drive up to 25 miles per hour.
Leaders like Racine Mayor Cory Mason, State of Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson, Dr. David Noyce, Director of the Traffic Operations and Safety Laboratory, UW-Madison, and Dr. Bryan Albrecht, President of Gateway Technical College gathered at Gateway Technical College alongside researchers to inform the public on the possibilities of a self-driving vehicle in the city.
Mayor Cory Mason believes Racine has the perfect landscape to test out a self-driving vehicle. "It's our hope and ambition that the city of Racine will become a laboratory for this kind of technology, so that people will want to come here and learn how to operate that kind of system," said Mason.
While it will not be available to the public just yet, and there is no set timeline, leaders have hope that this could be a common form of transportation in the future while also reducing accidents on the road.
"As of today, we've lost 488 people on Wisconsin roads, and that is even a couple more than last year compared at this time. But what this technology has the ability to do in the pretty near term with connected technology is reduce a lot of accidents. Because vehicles can talk to each other, and sometimes with the infrastructure, and hopefully bring accidents and deaths down to zero," said WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson.
The Badger will need to run through a series of tests at Gateway Technical College, and students will be able to contribute to the research.