First responders start automated vehicle training in Racine

Automated vehicles are part of the future of Wisconsin's roadways, which means new training is needed for first responders.

An emergency involving automated vehicles could be different from what first responders are used to.

"Over time, law enforcement and first responders is going to see automated vehicles on the roadway," said Steven Parker with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Traffic Operations and Safety Laboratory.

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"The Badger" is a training tool to help first responders get up to speed.

"First responders and police need to know how these vehicles work as they embark on different scenarios," Parker said. "Is the vehicle going to start by itself as they approach it? What if the vehicle is on fire? What if they need to tow it?"

"The Badger" automated vehicle training tool

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is partnering with the city of Racine, Gateway Technical College and UW-Madison to get the training underway – going over the basics of automated vehicles. 

As the vehicles on the roads change, the laws and types of responses will change, too. It's all about making sure first responders are ready when emergencies happen.

"How should we respond if an officer spots a sleeping or incapacitated driver? What if There's no driver at all?" said Joel Nilsestuen, WisDOT's assistant deputy secretary. "To ensure CAV technology can be safely adopted in Wisconsin, first responders and law enforcement need answers to these questions."

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"Its really just making sure they have hands-on experience before a real situation," Parker said.

Automated vehicles are currently not allowed on Wisconsin roadways. WisDOT hopes the training will eventually be incorporated in all required first responder training statewide.