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Gateway to house, work on autonomous vehicle project

Gateway Technical College’s Rudy the Red Hawk got a roommate this week: The Badger.

The Badger isn’t an animal – it’s a vehicle of the future to be housed at Gateway’s Racine Campus.

The city of Racine, Gateway Technical College, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Traffic Operations and Safety Laboratory and Perronne Robotics on Monday officially launched the Autonomous Vehicle Project: Driverless Public Transportation in Racine with the unveiling of the autonomous vehicle, The Badger. The event was held just outside of the space where the vehicle will be housed on Gateway’s Racine Campus.

“Today, like Racine did more than 100 years ago, when the Spark – our nation’s first automobile – drove down Main Street onto Monument Square, we celebrate the future of transportation and a vibrant economy,” Gateway Technical College President and CEO Bryan Albrecht told unveiling event attendees.

“This new partnership will bring together the experience of one of the nation’s most successful transportation research centers with the talents of technical faculty and students of Gateway’s information and automotive technology programs.”

Researchers from UW-Madison will collect and analyze data gathered from the vehicle’s established route including such factors as weather conditions, operations, safety systems, road hazard avoidance, speed and adaptability.

Gateway information technology faculty and students will participate in designing research questions and data analysis in research projects related to their information technology program.

Racine Mayor Cory Mason brought The Badger project to Racine and says it is part of the city’s ongoing work to promote innovation, technology and transform Racine into a “Smart City.”

“The ambition is to make the city itself a catalyst for experimentation, innovation and technology for autonomous vehicles and mobility,” said Mason.

The Badger autonomous vehicle partnership was established to demonstrate technological applications of vehicle and pedestrian safety, road hazard avoidance, efficiencies and traffic congestion.

The vision for the project consisted of multiple phases, with the first phase of operations limited to a test track around the Gateway campus and down Pershing Road.

“I think this will serve as a historical marker signifying the beginning of a new age in transportation just like The Spark did so many years ago,” said Albrecht.