Self-Driving, 3D-Printed Bus Carries Its First Passengers

June 20, 2016 | Gillian Burrell

OIlli, the self-driving bus by Local Motors
Photo credit: Courtesy of Local Motors

The first to incorporate IBM’s Watson.

With technology these days developing at an exponential rate, you may be wondering when all these discoveries will start to improve your life. Thanks to Local Motors, a forward-thinking transportation company based in Arizona, it’s happening now.

Last week (June 16), Local Motors unveiled Olli: a 3D-printed, self-driving, electric bus. In a public display, the bus carried its first passengers, Local Motors CEO John B. Rogers and vehicle designer Edgar Sarmiento, into their new facility in National Harbor. Olli is now operating on public roads in Washington, DC, and the innovative technology is expected to come to Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas in the future.

SEE ALSO: Google Co-Founder, Larry Page Has Secretly Been Working on a Flying Car

Marketed as a “friendly neighborhood mobility solution,” Olli is like no other self-driving vehicle on the road. Instead of being owned by individuals, the autonomous vehicle seats up to 12 passengers so it could be used as a smart bus or taxi service or even a mobile cafe!

What makes Olli smarter than other self-driving cars is an operating system that is insanely simple to use. Through a partnership with IBM, each vehicle is powered by the cloud-based artificial intelligence known as Watson, which means that Olli responds just like a human driver. You can tell it to “Take me downtown” or find out “How does the vehicle work?” or even ask “Are we there yet?”

A key motivation behind the design was to be more environmentally-friendly than other transportation methods. As a smart, self-driving vehicle, Olli could be a more flexible alternative to buses and trains while reducing the number of cars on the road. Olli is even electrically-powered, and many of its components are 3D-printed, reducing the factory footprint needed to produce a vehicle.

If you don’t live in Washington, Olli can only be operated on privately-owned property like university campuses and airports, but each year, more and more governments authorize the use of self-driving vehicles on their roads. Who knows, maybe your region will be next.

Read next: Futuristic “Straddle Bus” Could Drive Over Rush-Hour Traffic and Help Save the Environment

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