Every once in a while, some new innovation comes out that feels like it is ripped from the page of speculative fiction. Take the Olli by IBM, it is not only an electric vehicle, but it is also a self-driving vehicle. Not only that, it uses the AI platform of Watson, the same one that one it big on Jeopardy. This Olli could be your new way of getting from Point A to Point B, and it will start its route soon in the United States.
According to Tech Insider, Local Motors, who helped design the Olli, this summer will have this driverless shuttle on the streets of Washington D.C. followed by a greater release in Miami and Las Vegas. It will then be able to navigate via Lidar, GPS, and external cameras.
The way that user catches a ride with Olli is to contact someone at Local Motors, and that website could really be interesting. It can accommodate about 12 people, so it is set up for a carpool. It is also possible to hitch a ride, and apparently it will cost nothing to try Olli out.
Unfortunately, it can only reach a top speed of 12 miles per miles, and it has a limited range of 32 miles. So I guess you can probably compare the convenience of travel to that of a rickshaw.
By the way, if you are travelling alone on Olli (which probably won't happen this summer given the free ride prices), and you want to have a conversation with the driver, that is possible. Watson will answer questions about how the vehicle works, where they are going, and why Olli is driving in the direction that he is. I would hope that you could carry on human-sounding conversation, but Tech 2 doesn't have anything to say about that.
So, it doesn't look like Google will be the only one working on a driverless vehicle, right? In fact, Local Motors CEO and co-founder John B. Rogers, Jr. said, "Olli with Watson acts as our entry into the world of self-driving vehicles, something we've been quietly working on with our co-creative community for the past year. We are now ready to accelerate the adoption of this technology and apply it to nearly every vehicle in our current portfolio and those in the very near future. I'm thrilled to see what our open community will do with the latest in advanced vehicle technology."
So, what is it that we are looking at with this Olli? I can't help but think that this is future of mass transit. Too bad that the Olli isn't bigger, but I am guessing that the plan is to have these Olli vehicles to replace our daily bus route.