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Local Motors Introduces “Olli” — First Self-Driving Vehicle To Utilize IBM Watson

The first self-driving vehicle to utilize the “advanced cognitive computing capabilities” of IBM Watson was recently unveiled by Local Motors.

The new electric autonomous vehicle — which has been dubbed “Olli” — was unveiled during the recent grand opening event for the new Local Motors facility in National Harbor, Maryland.

Local Motors Olli


 

As of today, “Olli” has begun to be used on public roads in Washington DC. Deployment in Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas is slated for late 2016.

“Olli offers a smart, safe and sustainable transportation solution that is long overdue,” commented Local Motors CEO and co-founder John B Rogers Jr. “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.”

The press release provides more:

The electric vehicle, which can carry up to 12 people, is equipped with some of the world’s most advanced vehicle technology, including IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive, to improve the passenger experience and allow natural interaction with the vehicle.

…Olli is the first vehicle to utilize the cloud-based cognitive computing capability of IBM Watson IoT to analyze and learn from high volumes of transportation data, produced by more than 30 sensors embedded throughout the vehicle. Using the Local Motors open vehicle development process, sensors will be added and adjusted continuously as passenger needs and local preferences are identified. Furthermore, the platform leverages four Watson developer APIs — Speech to Text, Natural Language Classifier, Entity Extraction and Text to Speech — to enable seamless interactions between the vehicle and passengers.

Passengers will be able to interact conversationally with Olli while traveling from point A to point B, discussing topics about how the vehicle works, where they are going, and why Olli is making specific driving decisions. Watson empowers Olli to understand and respond to passengers’ questions as they enter the vehicle, including about destinations (“Olli, can you take me downtown?”) or specific vehicle functions (“how does this feature work?” or even “are we there yet?”). Passengers can also ask for recommendations on local destinations such as popular restaurants or historical sites based on analysis of personal preferences. These interactions with Olli are designed to create more pleasant, comfortable, intuitive and interactive experiences for riders as they journey in autonomous vehicles.

“Cognitive computing provides incredible opportunities to create unparalleled, customized 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,” commented Harriet Green, General Manager, IBM Watson Internet of Things, Commerce & Education. “IBM is excited to work with Local Motors to infuse IBM Watson IoT cognitive computing capabilities into Olli, exploring the art of what’s possible in a world of self-driving vehicles and providing a unique, personalized experience for every passenger while helping to revolutionize the future of transportation for years to come.”

More information on the company can be found here.

 
Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

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