How will self-driving cars affect Kansas? AAA and WSU to host transportation seminars

Wichita State University and AAA Kansas will host an educational seminar series addressing the future of autonomous vehicles in the state.

“The technology to provide fully self-driving vehicles is under development and testing and is advancing toward future reality on our roadways,” said AAA Kansas spokesman Shawn Steward in a news release. “As the nation’s foremost advocate for motorists, travelers and traffic safety, AAA is pleased to partner with Wichita State to provide this informative forum to educate and engage with transportation and government officials, community business leaders and the public on the future of our transportation system, so we are prepared when autonomous vehicles become reality in Kansas.”

The first Technology Takes the Wheel seminar is 9-11:30 a.m. Aug. 30 at WSU Tech’s National Center for Aviation Training, 4004 N. Webb. It is free and open to the public. Attendees can register online at

“Future transportation systems with connected and autonomous vehicles will greatly change and impact all aspects of society, including our cities, rural communities, commerce and even human interaction and mobility,” said Debbie Franklin, WSU director of strategic initiatives, in the release. “As a university with a strong focus on advanced technology, innovation and applied learning, this is the type of forum and discourse we aim to provide our students and the community.”

The seminars are intended to inform and educate consumers and stakeholders about autonomous vehicle technology and plans, challenges and opportunities in Kansas.. Scheduled speakers for the first two seminars include AAA staff, WSU professors, a Kansas Department of Transportation official, an engineer and the Wichita Transit director, among others.

The release states that a AAA survey found that 71 percent of people are afraid to ride in fully self-driving vehicles, though 53 percent are comfortable with low-speed and short-distance forms of transportation, like people movers at airports and theme parks. Another 44 percent said they are comfortable with self-driving vehicles to deliver food or packages.