A small Phoenix auto design, development and manufacturing company with big partners and customers — think Siemens, IBM, Airbus, and GE — has introduced what could arguably be called the first commercial self-driving vehicle. It was done, moreover, in just three months from concept to product, using 3-D printing technology.
Jon B. Rogers, CEO and Cofounder of Local Motors, introduced Olli, a 12-passenger jitney-like autonomous EV on June 16, which he noted was a significant date in automotive history — June 16, 1903 was the date of incorporation of Ford Motor Company.
Initially, Olli will be employed in a small area of a shopping mall — the principal feature of the 300-acre multi-user National Harbor area, just south of Washington, D.C. on the Maryland side of the Potomac.
The goal is to have 30 vehicles in operation by year-end, in Miami, Las Vegas, and Copenhagen. Canberra and Berlin are also said to be interested. Rogers envisions micro-manufacturing facilities spread around the world.
Olli can carry up to 12 passengers with a 30-mile ranges. Speed wasn’t mentioned, but Olli seems destined for low-speed shuttle-like operations in urban areas, and on campuses and malls.
Watson’s cognitive computing platform functions as an “inquiry response system,” that is similar to, but more powerful, than Siri or Google Voice. Passengers can “converse” with Watson on their trip, including questions about destinations, and how and why the system makes its decisions.