AI/Watson

Local Motors steers toward future with self-driving cognitive vehicles

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Today, there’s an opportunity to advance technology and create a lot of jobs, while also changing the automotive industry and our society. The vision at Local Motors is to shape the future with technology-forward products that are available now. That’s what we’re doing with Olli, the first self-driving cognitive shuttle. We’ve launched Olli in National Harbor, Maryland, and Berlin, Germany. We have plans for even more locations, including Phoenix, Arizona; Miami-Dade County, Florida; and Las Vegas, Nevada in 2017.

In addition to the technological advancements visible in our products, Local Motors is also addressing mobility needs in congested cities, tackling environmental sustainability and bringing local jobs by way of microfactories.

Enhanced mobility

As a self-driving cognitive shuttle, Olli creates shared mobility and can change the city ecosystem by helping to reduce traffic. Shared mobility is especially relevant because it helps lessen congestion and  reduce roadway accidents. Traditional solutions like trains and buses require an incredible amount of infrastructure and don’t bring people door to door. In addition, newer solutions like Uber and Lyft actually increase congestion on the road because there are now multiple fleets of vehicles driving around.

Self-driving cognitive vehicles address these challenges and allow for increased customization. The vehicles can be personalized to the needs of the city or area they are serving, for ADA accessibility, or for public or cargo transportation. These vehicles can also personalize your experience, greeting you by name, offering advice about local sites if you’re not from the area, and finding the most efficient route to your destination. As a result, travel is made more enjoyable and more productive, and it’s just the beginning.

Enhanced environmental sustainability

Self-driving vehicles present a big opportunity. All of our vehicles are electric, which reduces emissions. Plus, by introducing shared mobility, we’re also helping to cut down on traffic and gain utilization of charging. That means that the same vehicle gets kept in use and charged only when needed. Consequently, city planners will now have the opportunity to map better transportation use, plan more efficient electricity charging and address more complex infrastructure needs. For example, they can start to plan for faster emergency services, reduced pedestrian fatalities and minimized roadway accidents and congestion.

Enhanced local economies

Environmental sustainability is one leg of a three-legged stool. In addition to environmental sustainability, it’s important that Local Motors also has financial sustainability, meaning we have a business that can be around for a long time, and that we also address social sustainability. We have to have the ability to give people respectable jobs. This social sustainability and the ability to customize our vehicles to the area they serve is especially relevant and it’s why we refuse to use the mega-factories of the past. Our ideas come to life in microfactories—the cleaner, smarter and more efficient factory of tomorrow. Microfactories allow us to bring good-paying advanced manufacturing jobs to new cities, tailor our vehicles to the nuances of each city and innovate more rapidly, bringing the latest technology into our new products.

The automotive industry is ripe for disruption and allows us to tackle complex issues. The main thing to me, though, is that we’ll soon have the freedom we’ve been looking for in cities.

 

Hear more in the IBM Wild Ducks podcast with Jay Rogers below.

Meet Olli in the below video:

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Local Motors CEO and co-founder

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