Where on the one hand, the commercial launch of autonomous cars seems to be taking several years, the self-driving bus – Olli, on the other hand, is likely to be seen operating on university campuses in Las Vegas and Miami later this year.
What is so exciting about Olli is that not only it carries passengers but also talk to them. The self-driving bus could be seen in several major US cities within months. Testing of Olli has already been done in Maryland.
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The electrically-powered vehicle can carry 12 passengers, and is likely to begin services initially in closed locations such as on campuses and at airports. The bus relies on a number of on-the-bus cameras, laser-sensing system, and LiDAR sensors.
The bus is also fitted with speed monitoring and a sensor on the front which will bring it to a halt if it makes contact with anything. Using Watson, a technology developed by IBM, the bus will be able to “interact” with passengers who could use voice commands to tell Olli to take them to a specified destination.
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Its other selling point is that it is made from 3D printed materials, which brings the cost of production down. The parts can also be broken down and recirculated. Olli’s manufacturers see the bus being used by companies to transport workers around their grounds and eventually being used to fill gaps in the urban transport system.