By Robert Fischer, President GTiMA

Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) technologies are expected to have a wide-ranging impact on transportation in Wisconsin. To prepare, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) launched the Wisconsin Automated Vehicle External (WAVE) Advisory Committee in September to gather stakeholder input and advice on CAV-related planning priorities, implementation policies, and impacts on the state’s transportation system.

In his opening remarks at the inaugural meeting on September 8 and 9, Secretary of Transportation, Craig Thompson, reflected on the importance of the transportation system, how every aspect of people’s lives are made easier and more enjoyable by a good transportation system, and that the potential impact of CAV technology may be as dramatic as the rise of digital technology.

The purpose of the committee is to “provide a forum consisting of representatives from CAV and transportation-focused organizations, state economic sectors, and the public sector to review CAV issues and to provide input and advice to WisDOT on CAV planning priorities, implementation policies, and impacts on a safe and efficient transportation system,” states the committee’s charter.

Committee member Ray Mandli, President of Mandli Communications Inc., a Madison-based company that supplies high-definition digital maps to automated vehicle companies, is encouraged by WisDOT’s approach to preparing Wisconsin for this technology.

“CAV technology has a tremendous upside, but the safe and equitable deployment of this technology will require good planning and foresight. The WAVE Advisory Committee is a good step in the right direction, convening key stakeholders from the public and private sector to support our DOT as it moves forward in this exciting area.”

Committee members come from the private sector, non-profit groups, various associations, academia, and other government agencies. Each member commits to a two-year term.  The full list of members can be found here.

Topics discussed on September 8 included the state of CAV research at Wisconsin’s universities, as well as private sector CAV research, development and testing domestically and abroad.  Speakers included Dr. David Noyce from the UW-Madison;  Dr. Troy Liu from UW-Milwaukee; Dr. Henry Medeiros from Marquette University; Mr. Josh Fisher from the Alliance for Automotive Innovation; Mr. Robert Fischer (yours truly) from the Society of Automotive Engineers International; and Mr. Brian Scharles from TAPCO.

Discussions on September 9 revolved around federal, regional, and local government perspectives on CAV planning, policy implementation, and regulation.  Speakers included Ms. Sara Bennett from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); Mr. Brad Basten, and Mr. Don Gutkowski, both from WisDOT.

The WAVE committee will build off the progress made in 2017-2018, when WisDOT convened a special committee to recommend a coordinated effort to best advance testing and operation of autonomous and connected vehicles in Wisconsin. The committee was chaired by the WisDOT Secretary and included representatives from the State Legislature, public agencies, law enforcement, auto manufacturers, trucking, motorcycles and other sectors. The final report and other details can be found on the committee’s page.

Minutes for the September WAVE kickoff meeting can be found here.


Robert Fischer is President of GTiMA, a Technology and Policy Advisor to Mandli Communications, and an Associate Editor of the SAE International Journal of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.