Let’s get to it straight: Olli is an autonomous, electric, IoT enabled city bus. It can carry 12 passengers and is controlled via a smartphone app. In addition, it is currently running on the roads of Washington DC. Olli is perhaps the first of it’s kind, and that’s exactly why it has gained a lot of limelight in the tech and automobile community.
You see, autonomous cars and trucks are awesome. But a large chunk of the population relies on public transport for their daily commute - buses, trams, metro rail. And bringing smart technologies to public transportation is a necessity of the future… actually, it is a necessity of the present. The introduction of Olli, by Arizona based Local Motors, is a great starting point in this revolution.
How does Olli work? Olli is built to be an IoT enabled vehicle, and not just an autonomous vehicle. First up, Olli runs on the IBM Watson artificial intelligence platform that handles the bus’ operations and communication with its users. Watson is what enables travellers to ask the bus (to) “Take me home” or “How much time will it take?”.
IBM’s Harriet Green said: “Cognitive computing provides incredible opportunities to create unparalleled, customised experiences for customers, 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.”
Watson also drives the bus - when someone requests for it using the app, Watson replies. With the help of 30 sensors and 360-degree camera vision, the computer autonomously controls the bus through city streets. However, Olli is also streaming this sensor and camera data to a physical location where a human can remotely control the functions of the bus. This is made to ensure maximum passenger and road safety.
Majority of Olli is 3D printed, allowing for lower production costs. Olli is therefore transformable - perhaps a traveling coffee shop? Or a moving meeting room, picking up attendees on the move. There are a ton of possibilities.
As I mentioned before, Local Motors has launched Olli in Washington DC, and expansion plans include a later-this-year launch in Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas. I can’t wait to see all old, clunky and unsafe buses being replaced by a Olli or similar buses sooner than later!
What do you think about Olli? Have you ridden in on it? Comment below.
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