A Janesville city bus is parked at the downtown terminal in December 2017. The city is working with UW-Madison on a month-long research project to gauge public perception of autonomous technology in public transit.


A UW-Madison research project is collecting Janesville residents’ feelings about autonomous vehicles in public transit.

The project is being conducted by the UW-Madison Traffic Operations and Safety Laboratory and is led by Dr. Madhav Chitturi.

“The study will help us understand trust in automation, willingness to use automation and prepare for broader adoption and possible integration of autonomous vehicles and transit services,” the survey introduction reads.

Among the questions are:

  • If you have a vehicle with any driving assistance technologies, are you happy about those technologies?
  • Would you feel comfortable taking a bus, shuttle or taxi that was fully automated with no driver?
  • What is your opinion about the future of autonomous vehicles and public transit?

The same survey already was conducted in Eau Claire, and Chitturi said other Wisconsin cities could be surveyed after Janesville.

“Automated vehicles have a lot of good they can provide the community, but it’s all about the community trusting in the technology,” Chitturi said.

Janesville city officials agreed to help with the survey locally because it’s a “win-win” for the city and university, said Maggie Darr, assistant to City Manager Mark Freitag.

Darr said Janesville has five public transit routes and some limited evening routes in addition to the Beloit Janesville Express.

“We’re kind of providing the vehicle for the survey by using our community and website,” Darr said. “We’re hoping to get some good data from our transit users that can help us with our future decision-making as well.”

Chitturi said vehicles already have some driver assistance technologies, such as cruise control and lane tracking.

“We want to learn the community’s worries about technologies that already exist and see what we can do to address these trust issues as well,” Chitturi said.

The objective is to study how autonomous vehicles can be integrated into transit systems to serve the public better, he said.

The survey opened May 30 and will close Tuesday, July 30.