Olli, 3D printed autonomous electric vehicle transports Sacramento State students

Olli is now on the move at the Sacramento State University campus. Manufactured by Local Motors, an Arizona-based OEM, Olli is a 3D printed autonomous electric vehicle that can be customized according to desired routes.

Co-founder and CEO of Local Motors, Jay Rogers, said,  “This deployment is a big moment for Sacramento State and for Local Motors, and follows months and months of co-creation, design and development,”

“The Sacramento State campus, with its passion for sustainability and early adoption of technology, is an ideal, real-world proving ground for all that Olli has to offer. And, this deployment puts Olli at the doorstep of a generation of young adults who will play a significant role in moving autonomous technology forward.”

3D printed autonomous bus

The Olli vehicle has been in development since 2016. Early last year, Local Motors received a billion dollar funding to advance the progress of the electric vehicle.

Olli is a fully autonomous electric bus with a capacity to carry eight people or 612 kg. The electric bus can charge in 1.5 hours and run on the road at 25 mph.

Parts of the vehicle such as the lower body and the roof are 3D printed. This gives Local Motors the freedom to customize Olli for different environments and needs. For example, for a business park route, a smaller Olli can be built, whereas for airport terminals a larger body of the vehicle can be 3D printed.

Olli is equipped with 360° LiDAR scanners which can sense the surroundings in all directions. Moreover, for added safety, a human being monitors the Olli at all times.

On the software side of things, Olli is fitted with IBM Watson IoT platform, which can take questions from passengers and make location recommendations like the nearest café or a restaurant.

Sacramento State students enjoying the ride in Olli. Image via The Sacramento Bee
Sacramento State students enjoying the ride in Olli. Image via The Sacramento Bee

The future of Olli

Last year, Local Motors introduced the Olli Fleet Challenge to invite participants to suggest the best use of Olli. The State of Sacramento University won the challenge along with three others.

Now with support from the Sacramento Area Council of Government, two Olli vehicles will run at the Sacramento State campus from Moraga Way to near Capistrano Hall. This will be a 90-day trial period for the technology to see how it fares in real life situations. After this Olli will be transferred to another city for more trial runs.

Rogers commented, “So it was the opportunity for us to be able to have a robot, or pod of them, out on campus — mixed use, wheel chairs, skateboards, kids carrying projects, all these kinds of things — and it’s actually much harder than being on a normal city street that’s more organized.”

Sacramento State president, Robert S. Nelsen, believes that such a high-tech technology will also have a positive impact on the students. Nelsen said, “The possibilities that come with introducing this type of technology to students is limitless, and I know I am excited to see how Olli may inspire our talented students and faculty.”

This year, Local Motors has also opened an Olli Fleet Challenge in Australia.

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Featured image shows the Olli vehicle at the Sacramento State campus. Image via The Sacramento Bee.