The first year after any product debut can be rocky and unstable but for our first autonomous vehicle, Olli, the ride was smooth and predictable. Which is fitting since that’s how you might describe a ride in Olli.
The idea for Olli (originally named “Berlino”) came from a challenge we hosted in 2015, the Urban Mobility Challenge. It asked our co-creation community to tackle future mobility issues facing cities everywhere. After countless and varied entries, a Local Motors community member submission rose to the top.
The purpose of the challenge was much more substantial than merely creating another mode of transportation. We hoped the ultimate entry would become a solution to traffic congestion and a way to streamline shared transportation systems around the world. If your mind is always thinking in futuristic terms, you know that a typical small bus is not an adequate answer to these challenges. But the winning entry submitted by community member, Edgar Sarmiento was much more than that. It was autonomous, environmentally friendly, smart, and targeted at cities or large companies rather than individuals. It was meant to be a system; not an individual vehicle. We knew we had a real opportunity in Olli.
That’s when the fun began. We then had to take the submission from idea to proof-of-concept in less than four months, utilizing Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM) and 3D printing technology.
Olli officially made its debut in National Harbor at the Grand Opening of Local Motors’ new Sales and Demonstration facility June 16, 2016.
In the first 12 months since launch, Olli has taken 845 trips, transported 1,456 passengers safely and invited 504 passengers to be a part of our user research group. We’re thrilled with what we’ve accomplished in the first year but know we have some big challenges ahead.
Our immediate plans for Olli will include the continuation of our #AccessibleOlli challenge and a debut of #AccessibleOlli at CES 2018 in January, along with launching our first US pilots in 2018. That will be followed by the launch of a fully 3D-Printed Olli in Summer 2018.