I’m here at Local Motors’ new National Harbor Facility just outside of Washington, DC, where Local Motors is introducing their new autonomous people-hauler, named Olli. Olli is a big, friendly-looking box, and, to a space-utilization fetishist like myself, that’s a good thing.
Ollie reminds me a lot of a modernized Quasar Unipower, which was a glass box on wheels that only thirteen or so likely drunk French people bought. With the Ollie, Local Motors has replaced the mod chick in the miniskirt at the wheel with an autonomous driving system and an IBM Watson-powered UI, and the drivetrain is now electric.
Local Motors is interesting for a lot of reasons, but the one that strikes me most now is the insane breadth of their (admittedly limited-run) offerings: at one end we have the Rally Fighter, an off-roadable sportsbeast that’s all about visceral driving fun; at the other extreme is Ollie, an unapologetic autonomous vehicle that removes the passengers from the act of driving as much as possible.
They’re both extreme realizations of their respective visions, and it’s amazing one company produces both.
In a few minutes I’ll be poking around Ollie live with Jay Rogers, Local Motors CEO, and while I’m disappointed they won’t let me get it moving, this should be pretty fascinating regardless.
It’s a cab-over room on wheels; how many years have I been advocating for this sort of thing in one way or another? Sure, it’s just a people-mover intended for places like Disneyland, Vegas, and maybe your more forward-thinking drug dens and fleshpots, but that’s how you get people used to the idea of letting a robot do the driving.