Photo credit: Pexels
Buckle up, we’re off to the races in the sunshine state! Local Motors has launched its fifth Olli Fleet Challenge in the southeastern most state in the United States, Florida. Home to a legion of entertainment attractions, universities, and retirement communities, Florida is a top destination in the U.S.. VISIT FLORIDA estimates that a record 116.5 million visitors traveled to Florida in 2017 alone. Millions of travelers equates to cities filled with a sea of cars and people looking to get from point A to point B.
Photo credit: Florida Chamber of Commerce
2019 is off to an unfavorable start as there have been 64,993 total crashes as of March 7, according to Florida’s Integrated Report Exchange System. While the numbers have declined month over month, the number of accidents is still a strong indicator that the state can use another mode of transportation to help reduce traffic and allow riders to safely enjoy their commute. Luckily there’s a solution to help solve this problem. Meet Olli – the world’s first co-created, self-driving, electric shuttle.
Olli is a safe, smart and sustainable autonomous vehicle offering a new way for commuters to travel. Digitally manufactured and cognitively enhanced, Olli’s technology features spur transformation in the world of transportation. In addition to operating in closed-networks, the vehicle can serve as a first and last mile solution, lightening up the load on the roads.
Florida has a total landmass of 65,755 square miles. Whoa, let’s just say Olli has plenty of roads to operate on and lots of land to cover. So, with over 20 million plus residents occupying 67 counties and over 1,250 golf courses, we’re calling all cities, districts and campuses to take advantage of the next mobility solution to hit the roads. Northern, central, and southern Florida entities now have an opportunity to enter the Florida Olli Fleet Challenge and submit their best-use case. May the best-use case win!
Photo credit: UNF
Our excitement for the challenge extends beyond the wonderful and exciting cities in the state of Florida. We have assembled a reverent team of Floridian leaders who will evaluate entry submissions based on the following points – people, place, product, partners, and policy; ultimately helping us determine the winner of the challenge.
Michael Finney – President & CEO Miami-Dade Beacon Council
Michael Finney leads the the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, the official economic development organization for Miami-Dade County. As President & CEO, Mr. Finney champions the county’s efforts to market Miami-Dade as a world class business destination, grow local companies and help shape the county’s economic future. He collaborates with key stakeholders, including Miami-Dade County, Career Source, the Miami-Dade Council of Chambers and private sector leaders throughout the community, to attract and retain businesses and the workforce needed to expand a growing and dynamic economy.
Prior to his current role, Mr. Finney served Michigan Governor Rick Snyder as Senior Advisor for Economic Growth and was also the President & CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Lisa Bacot – Executive Director, Florida Public Transportation Association
Lisa Bacot is currently the Executive Director of the Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA), one of the largest state transit associations in the nation. She has over 20 years of transportation and health care experience. For 12 years, Ms. Bacot was employed by the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged, a state agency legislatively charged with ensuring transportation services are provided to the most vulnerable citizens of Florida. She served as the Executive Director for the Commission for five years, including the direct oversight of over $110 million in non-emergency transportation funding.
Jeff Brandes – Florida State Senator
Senator Jeff Brandes is a lifelong resident of St. Petersburg, a veteran, and a local businessman. After serving in the Army from 1999 to 2006, he joined his grandfather in the family lumber business. Senator Brandes was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2010. He was elected to the Florida Senate in 2012, then reelected in 2014 and 2016. He has chaired the Senate committee on Transportation, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development, and currently serves as chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice. Senator Brandes is nationally recognized as a policy leader in the areas of autonomous vehicles and mobility, flood insurance and criminal justice reform.
Ben Kennedy – Managing Director of Racing Operations and International Development, NASCAR
Ben Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., is a fourth generation leader from the NASCAR-founding France Family, bringing experience to the NASCAR organization from previous roles as both a driver and team owner. Mr. Kennedy began his racing career behind the wheel of a four-horsepower quarter midget at a little track in New Smyrna Beach, Florida eleven years ago. Most recently, he raced in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Richard Childress Racing and GMS Racing.
Prior to his role as the Managing Director of Racing Operations and International Development, Mr. Kennedy was the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series General Manager. As the team owner in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, he also competed fulltime in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series from 2014-2016, earning his first win and first playoff berth in 2016.
Carla Williams – President, Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) Central Florida Chapter
Carla Williams currently serves as President of Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) Central Florida chapter and serves on the COMTO National Board of Directors. Central Florida COMTO is a dynamic multi-modal transportation organization that provides leadership programs as well as, advocacy services to the needs of the businesses, members and communities within the Central Florida area.
Ms. Williams is also the Manager of Community Engagement for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) in Tampa, Florida. She has coordinated community relations, marketing and business outreach programs to promote HART’s services to the Hillsborough County community for over 20 years. Ms. Williams performs as the agency’s primary point of contact to schedule and execute community events and grassroots outreach.
Jason Fischer – Representative, District 16 Florida House of Representatives
Representative Fischer was elected to District 16 of the Florida House of Representatives in November 2016. After graduating college, he went to work at Florida Power & Light. In 2006, he left FPL to become a civilian engineer with the United States Navy where he would spend the next five years supporting the global war on terrorism.
Five years later, Representative Fischer transitioned his career back into the private sector and went to work for CSX, one of the country’s largest transportation companies. He currently works for HNTB where he is a senior transportation engineer, and he is also a part of the Florida Transportation Builders’ Association.
In the 2019 Legislative Session, he plans to promote ACES (Autonomous, Connected, Electric, Shared) legislation to ensure that Florida is paving the way for innovative advancements in technology.
The Florida Olli Fleet Challenge closes on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. We encourage you to submit your entries by then and also share the Olli Fleet Challenge with interested organizations. For additional information on requirements and the challenge process, please visit localmotors.com.
We look forward to seeing Olli on Florida roads!