UW-Madison chosen by U.S. DOT to test automated vehicles

Posted at 7:29 AM, Jan 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-25 08:33:08-05
Driverless cars are making their way to Madison. The U.S. Department of Transportation has selected the University of Wisconsin-Madison as one of 10 locations in the country to test automated technology.
The university's College of Engineering is one step closer to bringing automated vehicles to campus and the surrounding community, testing new technologies to help advance automated technology.
Peter Rafferty, a program manager in the College of Engineering, said automatic technology is not only growing, but is necessary to improve safety on the roadways.
"There is such a problem with distracted driving and it's getting worse. With these automated features, that can eliminate a lot of the problems," Rafferty said.
Beyond safety, Rafferty said the goal is to improve accessibility. The university is proposing three stages to test vehicles at off-site research facilities, including MGA Research facility and Road America. They also plan to create designated driving routes on UW and Epic's campuses to test safety, durability and transit.
"Say you live a mile and a half from the nearest bus transit hub, and that is a barrier for walking. One of these mini buses in an automated, running on routing algorithms, could be operating on demand," he said.
It will be a long time before driverless cars will be on the Madison Beltline.
Rafferty said there are legal, technical and liability speed bumps that Wisconsin still has to overcome before cars are given the green light.
"That type of thing is already here and it's a matter of incremental increases as we get through this transition period, which is years long," he said.