Local Motors by LM Industries Group Inc. is a ground mobility company focused on shaping the future for the better. Founded in 2007 with a belief in open collaboration and co-creation, Local Motors began low volume vehicle manufacturing of open-source designs using multiple microfactories. Since inception, Local Motors has debuted no less than three world firsts: the world’s first co-created vehicle, the world’s first 3D-printed car, and the world’s first co-created, self-driving, electric vehicle, Olli. Local Motors believes that Olli is the answer to a sustainable, accessible transportation solution for all.
Olli aims to change the way the public views transportation, solve congestion, reduce emissions, and help resolve access and equity issues. Self-driving technology has changed the landscape of transportation, introducing alternative mobility solutions to ease the burden of traffic, serve as a first/last mile solution, and decrease the number of vehicles on roads. It is reported that 94 percent of car accidents are due to human error. Autonomous vehicles can help lessen car accidents, leading to fewer fatalities on the roads due to distracted drivers and free up more time for people to spend doing what they love.
Olli is designed to serve users in need of transportation in a variety of settings, including but not limited to, neighborhoods, educational and business campuses, entertainment districts and city centers, healthcare facilities, and any number of other venues. Olli is equipped to move goods and people safely. Pending regulatory advancements related to autonomous vehicles, Olli can be used on private roads or on public roads that have received specific clearance to operate a self-driving vehicle, as is the case in National Harbor, Maryland.
Olli operates in National Harbor, Maryland, a 350-acre waterfront resort space that welcomes more than 12 million visitors a year and is home to more than 2,000 residents. The harbor is comprised of myriad restaurants and businesses as well as host to several events and festivals throughout the year. As a highly trafficked prime destination for local entertainment, National Harbor is a great use-case to explore the complexities of testing autonomous mobility and capture feedback from its visitors.
Upon receiving a permit from the State of Maryland, Olli began testing on public roads in National Harbor, January 2019. Passengers have an opportunity to experience the comfort of the ride, the vehicle’s ability to operate along with mixed-use traffic, its maneuverability around curves and corners, how it smoothly ascends and descends on hills, and its interactions with National Harbor pedestrians in a low-speed controlled environment.
Local Motors understands that systems, design, and outside influences all play roles in how Olli is received, how Olli functions, and how Olli keeps her passengers safe. Local Motors incorporates safety into every aspect of design, application, and deployment. Keeping passengers safe while educating them about autonomous technology are keys to the future success of Olli and to realize the greatest possible benefits of autonomous mobility.
Olli is equipped with several safety features, including human oversight despite her autonomous capabilities. In addition to Olli’s radars and cameras, she has seven Velodyne lidar sensors. Velodyne lidar allows the shuttle to capture a 360-degree view of the vehicle and her surroundings at all times, enabling Olli to perceive and safely navigate the environment.
Olli has integrated into the fabric of National Harbor, becoming an exciting and convenient source of transportation in the community. She has given rides to over 1,000 visitors and residents, helping reduce congestion by transporting passengers from parking garages to event spaces, residential buildings, and restaurants. Olli has amassed over 1,000 miles and received feedback from over 1,000 riders – most riders rode the shuttle due to convenience and/or were curious about autonomous vehicles.
Over 90% of passengers felt safe and found the vehicle extremely valuable, confirming they would use Olli to transport from home to other public transportation, within a college or corporate campus, as well as in busy city centers. Riders recommended increasing the number of stops, including adding the MGM and Tanger Outlets as stops along the route. As the deployment proceeds, Local Motors looks forward to expanding Olli’s route to accommodate more residents and visitors.
Olli is deployed globally, actively improving mobility for thousands. Velodyne lidar plays a critical role in the shuttle’s obstacle avoidance technology to ensure Olli steers clear of collisions and can easily re-route should her path become obstructed. Velodyne’s lidar provides a direct measurement of range and direction. Velodyne sensors are work in a variety of lighting conditions and allow Olli to detect obstacles on the horizon, complementing the vehicle’s additional safety features.
“We made the switch early on to use Velodyne as our partner for lidar sensors, replacing units providing smaller fields of coverage with Velodyne Pucks. Not only do they eliminate blind spots, but the expanded field provides a lot more data about one’s surroundings while employing fewer sensors overall
Velodyne’s product line, which expanded to include multiple form factors such as the Velabit and VelaDome, has already allowed us to start expanding our thinking relative to how we can integrate perception naturally into new designs. The Velodyne sensor portfolio allows us to reach our styling goals and ensure effective coverage, as well as manage product costs.