Local Motors debuts new accessibility features to aid US Veterans in partnership with SCVTA
May 12, 2021

In an effort to make autonomous transportation accessible for all, Local Motors will deploy their autonomous shuttle, Olli, to give veterans accessible transportation in Palo Alto, California. As a part of a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) pilot project, partners led test runs at a San Jose location, demonstrating the capabilities of the new automated, ADA-compliant ramp.

With help from Prospect Silicon Valley, this project is the nation’s first autonomous vehicle project to focus entirely on accessibility. The project is anchored by the development of three new features with alwaysAI that applies AI models to Olli’s internal and external cameras to notify Olli when a passenger is using a mobility device, an automated wheelchair ramp, developed by BraunAbility, and a ride-hailing application that allows mobility device users to customize their ride preferences, built by Liftango.

Kat Dransfield, Local Motors’ VP of Product and Digital Platform Strategy, said, “We’re proud to be developing these new Olli features to simplify mobility for patients. Real-world feedback from veterans will help us continue making Olli the most accessible autonomous shuttle available today.”

Olli vehicle is shown at transit stop preparing to pick up passengers.

“The Valley Transportation Authority prioritizes equity in the transit services we provide. This automated shuttle can be a game-changer to protect the independence of those who cannot use fixed-route transit service,” said Gary Miskell, VTA’s Chief Innovation Officer. “Not only will riders experience the benefits of accessible transportation, but we hope more transit agencies will begin to prioritize and adopt similar solutions.” 

Other partners in this venture are Robotic Research and Mineta Transportation Institute.

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is an independent special district responsible for bus, light rail and paratransit operations; and also serves as the county’s congestion management agency.

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