While transit officials in the Washington, D.C. have been working overtime to repair the city’s aging subway system, a new kind of bus with some serious personality is making its debut in the nation’s capital. It’s called Olli, and it’s got the brain of IBM’s Watson computing system.
Olli might be smaller than other buses in the city, but it’s a whole lot smarter. So smart, in fact, that it doesn’t need a human driver. Passengers can hail the little bus from an app similar to Uber or Lyft. Once Olli picks them up, they simply ask the bus to take them to their destination, and off they go. Using an array of 30 sensors and its Watson-powered brain, Olli is able to continually collect and analyze transportation data, allowing it to make quick decisions and get better at navigating busy city streets.
Olli was created by American automotive startup Local Motors – a company that focuses on innovative open-source vehicle designs. Rather than build Olli with conventional manufacturing processes, Local Motors chose to 3D print most of its components instead. This allows replacement parts to be printed at local shops, rather than shipped in from elsewhere. The company has built “micro factories” to accomplish this goal in Germany, Arizona, Tennessee and Maryland.
According to EcoWatch, Local Motors is currently working with cities in at least 50 other countries who are also interested in Olli’s unique approach to bus transit. You can learn more about this smart little bus in the video from Local Motors below!