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Olli and Watson take to the road

More than 30 sensors embedded throughout the vehicle enable IBM’s Watson platform to use its cognitive computing capability to analyse and learn from high volumes of transportation data

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Olli, which can interact with passengers, has already been used on public roads in Washington DC
Olli, which can interact with passengers, has already been used on public roads in Washington DC

US based 3D-printed car maker, Local Motors has unveiled a self-driving electric bus that incorporates IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

 

The bus, dubbed ‘Olli’, has capacity for 12 passengers and according to the companies, the Watson IoT for Automotive platform allows for natural interaction with the vehicle which will improve passenger experience.

 

By deploying four Watson developer APIs -- speech to text, natural language classifier, entity extraction and text to speech -- passengers will be able to interact conversationally with Olli while travelling to their destination. Topics could include how the vehicle works, where they are going, and even why Olli is making specific driving decisions.

 

More than 30 sensors embedded throughout the vehicle enable the platform with its cognitive computing capability to analyse and learn from high volumes of transportation data. Using Local Motors’ open vehicle development process, sensors will be added and adjusted continuously as passenger needs and local preferences are identified.

 

The bus has already made its debut on the public roads of Washington DC and is scheduled to be piloted in Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas later this year.

 

“Olli offers a smart, safe and sustainable transportation solution that is long overdue,” said John Rogers, CEO and co-founder of Local Motors. “Olli with Watson acts as our entry into the world of self-driving vehicles, something we’ve been quietly working on with our co-creative community for the past year. We are now ready to accelerate the adoption of this technology and apply it to nearly every vehicle in our current portfolio and those in the very near future. I’m thrilled to see what our open community will do with the latest in advanced vehicle technology.”

 

To coincide with Olli’s launch, Local Motors has taken the wraps off its new National Harbor facility in Maryland to serve as a public place where “co-creation can flourish and vehicle technologies can rapidly advance,” it said.

 

The company’s 3D-printed cars are on display at the facility, along with a large-scale 3D printer and an interactive co-creative experience that showcases what the future of the nation’s capital might look like. STEM-centered programming is also being developed for the facility so that the public can learn more about 3D printing, sustainability, autonomous technology and get involved with Local Motors’ engineers and the company’s co-creation community.

 

The very first Olli will remain in National Harbor for the summer, and the public will be able to interact with it during select times over the next several months.

 

Development of the cognitive rider experience in Olli is a collaboration between Local Motors and IBM Watson IoT’s AutoLAB, an industry-specific incubation engine for co-creation of cognitive mobility applications. Production of additional Ollies is taking place at Local Motors headquarters near Phoenix.

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