IBM Watson-driven electric minibus Olli unveiled by Local Motors

IBM unveiled their first self-driving car brainchild called Olli. It is an autonomous electric minibus designed by Local Motors (the company which made the first 3D printed car. The self-driving vehicle can fit up to 12 people and is the first vehicle to use ‘Watson’, IBM’s machine-learning platform to communicate with the passengers.

The automaker designed the 12-seater self-driving system itself. It collaborated with IBM to use Watson’s abilities to power the other features of the electrical vehicle. Thanks to Watson, you can tell Olli where you’re heading in colloquial language and ask questions about how the tech works. It won’t even kick you out even if you ask traditionally abominating questions like “Are we there yet?”

At the moment, Olli is exclusive to the streets of DC, but Miami and Las Vegas will get their own electric minibus in the coming months. Local Motors is also in talks to test the bus in cities outside of the US, including Berlin, Copenhagen, and Canberra. Since these are only trial runs, it is unclear if and when the people will get to use it, but just seeing an unmanned vehicle run on the streets is something for a brief period.

At the time comes when driverless public vehicles can legally transport passengers, one will be able to summon an Olli through an app, just like Uber or Ola. If the company Local Motors becomes a success, cities all around the world will be able to avail it essentially putting giants like Uber, Didi (China) and Ola (India) out of business. Company co-founder John Rogers envisages building hundreds of micro-factories all over the world that whip out a 3D print Olli within 10 hours and assemble it one.

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