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Meet Olli, the self-driving shuttle you can talk to — thanks to IBM’s Watson

Catch Olli rollin’ on DC’s public roads starting today.

Local Motors

Local Motors, the company behind the first 3-D printed car, just debuted its first self-driving vehicle. The shuttle-like vehicle, called Olli, can fit up to 12 passengers and is also the first autonomous vehicle to use Watson — IBM’s machine-learning platform — to communicate with passengers.

That means Olli can respond to voice commands, like “Hey, Olli, please take me downtown,” and also answers questions using IBM’s speech-to-text, natural-language classifier, entity extraction and text-to-speech technology. The Watson-powered shuttle will even be able to recommend destinations to its passengers. And so begins the transition from human bus drivers to robot bus drivers.

Inside Olli
Local Motors

Starting today, Olli will be operating on public streets of National Harbor, Maryland — the home of Local Motors’ new facility — and will be available for public use during allotted times over the next few months. But Local Motors already has plans to manufacture more of these vehicles to be tested and potentially deployed on public roads in Las Vegas and Miami-Dade County in Florida by the end of 2016.

In both Nevada and Florida, Local Motors will be participating in a pilot program for public use of autonomous cars and expects to manufacture at least several dozen “Ollis” by the end of the year.

“It’s quite possible we build several hundred by the end of this year,” a Local Motors spokesperson wrote in an email.

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