Meet Olli: the Electric Self-Driving Minibus That Talks to Passengers

E-mobility has never been so cool. A new self-driving minibus has been doing the rounds, and is set to conquer the hearts of passengers and smart-transport enthusiasts the world over.

Author Annalisa Dorigo, 03.08.17

E-mobility has never been so cool. A new self-driving minibus has been doing the rounds, and is set to conquer the hearts of passengers and smart-transport enthusiasts the world over.

Smart, green and safe mobility is no longer a thing of the future – it’s now an increasingly important focus in a rapidly urbanising world, where cities need to play a key role in dealing with air pollution, rising carbon emissions, and road safety. An important trend recently has been the development of electric and driverless vehicles which can help make our cities not just cleaner, but safer too.

Enter Olli, a cute, 12-person, on-demand carrier that drives itself. Olli is the creation of Local Motors, an Arizona start-up, in partnership with IBM, whose Watson Internet of Things (IoT) technology gives Olli its unique features. Equipped with radar, lidar and cameras, Olli can see further ahead, and also react more quickly than a human, meaning road safety is firmly embedded in its design. Clever and reliable as this technology is, Olli is also monitored at all times by a human central operator responsible for fleet management, so that passengers can feel completely safe while they ride in it.

An Autonomous Vehicle That’s Extraordinary in More Ways Than One

Olli is the first vehicle that uses the cloud-based ‘cognitive computing capability’ of the IBM Watson IoT. The technology helps it analyse, and react to, the data it receives from its sensors in real time, and it also enables passengers to interact with it during the ride. Passengers can ask Olli about where it’s going, driving decisions it takes and how the vehicle works, as well as requesting recommendations on local venues. This unique interactive capability allows passengers to become participants: giving them a greater sense of control of and more enjoyment from the journey.

About 30 per cent of Olli has been 3D-printed, including the seating components and wheel wells. The 3D-printing process not only helps to cut down on manufacturing costs and time but – together with a network of local micro-factories Local Motors relies on for its production – it allows it to be customised to customers’ requirements. Lastly, its electric motor means cleaner air, greener cities, and quieter streets all around.

© https://localmotors.com/olli/

Like other on-demand services, users can track Olli, book (and pay for) their ride through a smart phone app, either selecting an existing route, or asking Olli to pick them up and take them from A to B. Olli is currently designed to drive at 25 miles per hour (although this is likely to increase), making it ideal for use on university or business campuses, or in industrial complexes.

Where Is Olli Now and Where Is It Going Next?

Since its unveiling in July 2016, apart from giving rides within Local Motors’ Maryland facility, Olli has been busy in Washington, and in Berlin as part of a German Deutsche Bahn pilot scheme on the Euref Campus. Copenhagen, and Las Vegas are planned as the next testing grounds.

On the production side, Local Motors micro-factories are currently located in Germany, Arizona, Tennessee and Maryland. However the company is planning to set up hundreds of them worldwide to help grow this network further and sustainably bring Olli closer to its markets.

Minimal, compact, cute and clever: Olli may well be the first of its kind, but with its smart and sustainable design, production and use, many more are sure to follow. To learn more head to their website, and take a look at the video below:

The future looks bright for e-mobility. Want to find out which countries are leading the way, how electric vehicles are now holding their own against the rest of the market, and what innovative startups are doing to keep e-mobility moving forward? You can find all the articles here: RESET Special E-Mobility.

E-Mobility: Where Is It Taking Us?

Climate change, particulate pollution, C02 emissions: If we're to make a switch from fossil fuels to clean energy, the transport sector needs to find new concepts, alternative energy sources, and innovative solutions. Not just because our stocks of fossil fuels are dwindling, but most importantly because burning them emits huge amounts of greenhouse gases.

Sharing Is Caring: The Rise of Electric Scooters

First came bike sharing schemes, then electric car sharing systems started gaining in popularity. Now several large cities around the world are rolling out electric scooter sharing services. Will this be the new vehicle of choice for urban dwellers?

Good Charging Infrastructure Could Put an End to Range Anxiety

Why has it taken so long for electric mobility to catch on? The main suspect: range anxiety, the fear of getting stranded with a flat battery. But with sufficient charging infrastructure and a rethink of the way we refuel, we could easily make it a thing of the past. There are enough good solutions available - we just have to put them into practice.

Join the E-Mobility Revolution

Using greener and more sustainable transport options is crucial if we're to meet climate targets and reduce air pollution in cities around the world. Fume-free, more sustainable and developing rapidly, electric vehicles could offer an effective alternative to traditional gas guzzlers.

How Green Is E-Mobility? It All Depends on the Power Source and Where the Battery Ends Up

Electric vehicles are currently touted as the most eco-friendly way to get from A to B. But what's the truth behind their supposedly green credentials? We've taken a closer look at their life cycle to see how they really shape up.

Wireless Wonder: The Electric Car Of The Future Will Charge Itself

Calling itself "the future of wireless power", Blue Inductive has made a bold statement. But maybe there's something in it. The German startup, based in Freiburg, has developed a technology that allows electric cars to be charged not just quickly but completely cable-free.

Call-a-bus: the End of the Bus Stop?

German researchers are using a small town as a living lab to test a transportation system where buses come based on real-time demand.

Back to the Future with eHighway Trucks

Carbon emissions and local air pollution are set to greatly reduce through innovation in road freight transport: electrification is the way to go. Siemens has been testing out a new eHighway system to reduce transport's impact on the environment.

Air Pollution

The term “air pollution” conjures up a broad array of images – from hazy smog to acid rain and buildings stained from exhaust fumes. Equally broad are its causes and negative effects on human and environmental health. In fact, the vast majority the world’s population is adversely affected by air pollution, perhaps without even realizing it. The good news is, since most air pollution is caused by human activity, it's a problem that all of us can do something about.