Lawmakers consider self-driving cars, hear testimony from Uber, GM

Lawmakers consider self-driving cars, hear testimony from Uber, GM
Uber via CNN

They are already in other states, but could self-driving cars make their way to Wisconsin roads? State lawmakers are looking into what it would take to make it a reality.

Representatives from Uber, General Motors, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and other transportation companies spoke to members of the Jobs and Economy Committee Wednesday afternoon.

Uber’s Director of Public Affairs Lisa Schrader said her company is confident streets would be safer and the economy would get a boost if autonomous vehicles were part of our state’s future.

“It’s a really exciting area of transportation in the future of transportation,” Schrader said. “Two years ago we announced the formation of our automated technology center in Pittsburgh, where we are testing self-driving cars with safety drivers.”

The technology is already in Pennsylvania and Arizona, and now being considered in Wisconsin.

“I think we need to embrace innovation to allow this technology to develop here but also be mindful of public safety concerns,” said Rep. Adam Neylon, R-Pewaukee.

Neylon said state lawmakers are already anticipating the implementation of self-driving cars, and want to make sure the right policies are put in place.

“I don’t think it’s in our best interest to put restrictive barriers to prevent the growth of this industry,” Neylon said.

While there is a lot to take into consideration, Wisconsin is already taking part. UW-Madison recently received a grant to be a test site for self-driving cars and has seen positive factors, like safer roadways and making way for less wear and tear on roads and bridges.

“It’s really going to be a new world of operation here within our transportation system, both in Wisconsin and across the nation,” UW-Madison professor David Noyce said.

There’s no specific timeframe when self-driving cars could be on Wisconsin roads, but Neylon said lawmakers will first and foremost look into licensing and registration, along with the determination of liability and insurance requirements. If some form of legislation comes forward relating to the vehicles this session, it most likely won’t be taken into consideration until the fall.