An autonomous shuttle by the name of Olli has recently made its debut at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington.
Olli seats 14 people and travels along a three-and-a-half-mile route, distributing riders at designated spots along the base. It has been described as a “lovely toaster,” it’s completely driverless, and the vehicle’s top speed is 25 miles per hour.
“Olli is equipped with many sensors and cameras. The sensors allow Olli to detect objects up to a football field away and the cameras allow the vehicle to see 360 degrees,” said Nikki Jones, a regional marketing manager at Local Motors, the company that creates Olli. “A safety operator is an additional layer of security. Once regulations change, we do intend to not have a safety operator on board.”
Two vehicles are currently servicing the Arlington army base and distribute military personnel as well as family members. So far, there are a limited amount of stops, but there are plans to expand the vehicle’s route.
“Thus far, it covers stops at the library, bowling alley, community center and their chapel,” Jones said. “The base is located near the Pentagon and there will be an opportunity where the route will be expanded, and in that way, personnel at the Pentagon will be able to ride Olli as well.”
According to Jones, in a later phase, the vehicle will be able to shuttle people between the nearest metro stations as well.
Olli is a cognitive vehicle, meaning that it has the capability of communicating with its passengers. In a video released by Local Motors, Olli is shown conversing with Jay Rogers, the CEO of the company. Olli can greet its passengers, introduce itself, answer questions about the weather as well as recommend places to dine and visit.
Thus far, Olli has been deployed in two places in the DMV: Arlington, and the National Harbor. While the Arlington vehicles are designated for military personnel, the Olli at National Harbor will be open to civilian riders. Those curious to ride Olli will be able to by the end of this summer.
“Olli is designed to be an environmentally friendly neighborhood mobility solution,” Jones said. “National Harbor is a closed network and allows Olli to safely and efficiently operate at a low speed, since it is a low-speed vehicle. We look forward to opening public rides on Olli later on this summer.”
The Olli vehicle, which was born in 2015, can be found in other parts of the U.S., including on the campus of California State University, Sacramento and the University of Buffalo. The vehicle has also made its way across the world and can be found in Australia, Denmark and South Korea. According to Jones, this is just the beginning of Olli operating in places around the world, and we should expect to see many more developments both at home and abroad.
“You should be on the look out for more Ollis hitting the road soon,” said Jones.
Outside of Olli, Virginia has other autonomous vehicle initiatives happening this summer. Fairfax County is partnering with Richmond, Virginia-based power and energy company Dominion Energy on an autonomous electric shuttle pilot that will run through the Commonwealth. Optimus Ride also announced that it is bringing self-driving cars to Reston, Virginia.-30-
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