Olli, an electric minibus

Local Motors, well known for the crowd sourced Rally Fighter off-road coupe and 3D printing a car, the Straiti, on their stand at IMTS 2014, has been diversifying lately. After starting some 3D-printed projects, it has gone in yet another direction, announcing the Olli, an electric minibus that looks like a large phone booth that’s been tipped on its side. And it’s autonomous.

Local Motors refers to the vehicle as a shuttle. It will transport up to 12 people from location to location along a pre-set route. The plan is to allow an Olli to be summoned using an app or a kiosk. It uses lidar, cameras and GPS to move along its route making adjustments as needed to avoid collisions. Currently, all Ollis will be monitored full-time by a human overseer and Local Motors states that it will assume liability in the case of an accident.


The Olli was in action at IMTS 2016

Olli uses IBM’s Watson, a cloud-based cognitive computing platform, to allow riders to vocally communicate with the vehicle. In addition to taking route requests, Watson allows an Olli to answer questions about the vehicle’s design and function or suggest restaurants based on the destination.

Unlike the vehicles Local Motors is most famous for, the Olli was not a crowdsourced project. It was developed in-house and uses a mix of 3D-printed aluminium, and steel parts throughout. The electric motor moves the Olli up to 25 mph, though Local Motors plans to eventually increase transit speeds. Legally, Olli can only operate on just a few public roads. Because of this, Local Motors is marketing the vehicle to places like university campuses and airports.