Meet Olli – a self-driving bus powered by IBM Watson insights

Picture credit: localmotors/YouTube

Local Motors has announced the development of its self-driving bus, dubbed ‘Olli’, powered by the advanced cognitive computing of IBM Watson. The electric vehicle, which can carry up to 12 people, facilitates natural interaction between the passenger and the vehicle. From today onwards, Olli will be used on public roads locally in DC, and late in 2016 in Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas.

Olli makes use of the cloud-based cognitive computing capability of IBM Watson IoT to analyse and learn from high volumes of transportation data, generated by more than 30 sensors embedded throughout the vehicle. The use of sensors will be further optimised as passenger requirements and local preferences come to light within the open vehicle development process. The platform makes use of four Watson developer APIs – Speech to Text, Natural Language Classifier, Entity Extraction and Text to Speech – in order to facilitate communication between the vehicle and passengers.

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

Harriet Green, General Manager, IBM Watson Internet of Things, Commerce & Education, said: “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.”

Local Motors also officially opened its new National Harbor facility in Maryland to function as a public location where co-creation can be fostered and vehicle technologies can witness advancement. The company's 3D-printed cars are showcased with a large-scale 3D printer and an interactive co-creative experience that provides insight on how the nation's capital will be transformed.

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