Architecture & Cities

Olli, the first 3D-printed, self-driving electric bus to hit the road in the US

Printed and assembled in a few hours, and then it’s ready to carry up to 12 passengers. The first prototypes of this bus are being tested in the streets of Washington, D.C.

This minibus could be the future of public transportation, or at least that’s how Local Motors, an Arizona-based company already known for being one of the first to build a 3D-printed car, conceived it. An electric, self-autonomous minibus equipped with IBM’s technology.

The 3-D printed minibus can talk with the passengers.

This is not a space age project because Olli – that’s the name of the bus – is already running its first miles in the streets of Washington. The electric bus, indeed, has been designed to be 3D-printed and then assembled, allowing to reducing production costs and the environmental impact.

Olli answers our questions

What is really surprising and attracting about this bus is the technology included in it. The self-driving minibus is equipped with 30 sensors that collect transportation data and allow it to move in the urban traffic.

In addition, thanks to the collaboration of Local Motors with IBM, Olli uses the IBM Watson technology developed by Big Blue. The computer in the bus is able to answer questions about nearby points of interests, traffic levels and to the same old question: “Are we there yet?”. “Cognitive computing provides incredible opportunities to create unparalleled, customized experiences for customers – Harriet Green, general manager of commerce and education for IBM Watson Internet of Things, said – taking advantage of the massive amounts of streaming data from all devices connected to the Internet of Things, including an automobile’s myriad sensors and systems”.

The most interesting thing is that it will be possible to reserve a seat via an app and ask for a lift when needed. The app tells the estimated travel time and then the nearest bus picks up the user.  “Olli offers a smart, safe and sustainable transportation solution that is long overdue,” John B. Rogers Jr., Local Motors CEO and co-founder, said. “We are now ready to accelerate the adoption of this technology and apply it to nearly every vehicle in our current portfolio”. The future of transportation passes through here.

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