Connected and Automated Vehicles

​“Today, connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology is increasingly helping drivers travel more safely and efficiently on Wisconsin’s roadways. Wisconsin DOT has taken the lead role in state government to ensure that Wisconsin is prepared to take full advantage of the opportunities CAVs will present.”

- Secretary Craig Thompson

Current Legal Status of Automated, Autonomous, or Self-Driving Vehicles

Wisconsin state law currently requires an operator to be behind the wheel and in physical control of a vehicle at all times while driving on Wisconsin roadways.

As with any other vehicle that is operated on the roadway, the operator or owner is responsible for the appropriate and safe operation of the vehicle while driving it. This includes the use of any technology the vehicle is equipped with, any malfunctions of the vehicle, and adherence with current state law and the Rules-of-the-Road.

​What are Connected and Automated Vehicles?

While some advanced driver-assistance systems like adaptive cruise control are in widespread use today, there are many other technologies that are inherent in the operation of Connected Vehicles, Automated Vehicles, and Connected and Automated Vehicles.

  • CAVConnected Vehicles (CVs) can communicate with other CVs, infrastructure, “the cloud,” and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists. CVs supply useful data to the driver to help make safer or more informed decisions.
  • Automated Vehicles (AVs; sometimes referred to as autonomous vehicles), can use cameras and on-board sensors such as radar and Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) to operate in isolation from other vehicles. Aspects of the driving functions, such as steering, braking, etc… can occur without driver input. AVs gain synergies from being “connected” but are not reliant on those connections for operation; when AVs are “connected,” they can be considered a Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV). Different levels of driving automation ​have been defined by SAE International.

Opportunities, Challenges, Accomplishments and Plans WisDOT Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Assistant Deputy Secretary in an automated vehicle.

CAVs have the potential to improve the quality of life and enhance the mobility of Wisconsin’s citizens, especially older adults and people with disabilities. Freight movement may be facilitated through techniques such as truck platooning. Most importantly, CAVs have the potential to improve safety by reducing crashes caused by human error and distracted or impaired driving.

CAVs also bring challenges. Questions about the safety, security, and privacy of these vehicles are being discussed around the world, including here in Wisconsin. The federal government is developing a framework that will define, assess, and manage the safety of CAV technology while still ensuring the flexibility needed to enable further innovation.

WisDOT has created an internal working group and an external Advisory Committee to determine how to best prepare our state for CAVs. Our Bureau of Traffic Operations is testing infrastructure technologies, and we are participating in multiple CAV research initiatives. We are working with other states ​to harmonize policies in order to make traveling across state borders in a CAV seamless, and within Wisconsin we’ve provided support to local governments involved in Smart City-type initiatives.

Through a strategic planning effort, CAV-related objective areas WisDOT and its partners will be concentrating on include:

  • ​Statute, Policy, and Regulation
  • Communications and Outreach
  • Partnerships
  • Organizational Alignment, Coordination and Readiness
  • ​Develop Transportation System Infrastructure and Operations Readiness
  • Research, Testing, and Pilot Projects
  • Data Governance and Security
  • Law Enforcement and First Responder Services

​​​WisDOT CAV Strategic Work Plan 2021-2023

WisDOT Connected and Automated Vehicle Communications and Outreach Plan

Government/Government-Associated Links

Non-Government Links


Brad Basten
Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Division of Budget and Strategic Initiatives
(608) 266-0786