Management & Operations

Self-driving vehicle integrating IBM Watson tech debuts

Posted on June 17, 2016

Local Motors
Local Motors
Vehicle technology integrator and creator of the world’s first 3D-printed cars, Local Motors, introduced the first self-driving vehicle to integrate the advanced cognitive computing capabilities of IBM Watson.

The electric vehicle, dubbed "Olli," which can carry up to 12 people, is equipped with some of the world’s most advanced vehicle technology, including IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) for automotive, to improve the passenger experience and allow natural interaction with the vehicle.

The vehicle was unveiled during the Grand Opening of a new Local Motors facility in National Harbor, Md., on June 16, 2016, and will be used on public roads in Washington, D.C., and late in 2016 in Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas.

Local Motors
Local Motors
Olli is the first vehicle to utilize the cloud-based cognitive computing capability of IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) to analyze and learn from high volumes of transportation data, produced by more than 30 sensors embedded throughout the vehicle. Using the Local Motors open vehicle development process, sensors will be added and adjusted continuously as passenger needs and local preferences are identified. Furthermore, the platform leverages four Watson developer APIs — Speech to Text, Natural Language Classifier, Entity Extraction and Text to Speech — to enable seamless interactions between the vehicle and passengers.
Local Motors
Local Motors
Passengers will be able to interact conversationally with Olli while traveling from point A to point B, discussing topics about how the vehicle works, where they are going, and why Olli is making specific driving decisions. Watson empowers Olli to understand and respond to passengers’ questions as they enter the vehicle, including about destinations (“Olli, can you take me downtown?”) or specific vehicle functions (“how does this feature work?” or even “are we there yet?”). Passengers can also ask for recommendations on local destinations such as popular restaurants or historical sites based on analysis of personal preferences. These interactions with Olli are designed to create more pleasant, comfortable, intuitive and interactive experiences for riders as they journey in autonomous vehicles, according to the company.    

The very first Olli will remain in National Harbor this summer, and the public will be able to interact with it during select times over the next several months. The development of the cognitive rider experience in Olli is a collaboration between Local Motors and IBM Watson IoT’s AutoLAB, an industry-specific incubation engine for co-creation of cognitive mobility applications. Production of additional Ollies is taking place at Local Motors headquarters near Phoenix.

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