Local Motors Building First Microfactory in Europe: Berlin Facility Will Build Autonomous Olli Bus and Serve as EMEA Headquarters
Local Motors, an automaker we enjoy following that develops cutting edge 3D printed cars, is continuing to expand its network of microfactories. Up until now, the microfactories have only been built in America, with locations in Arizona (where they are headquartered), Maryland and Tennessee, but the company is adding one across the pond in Germany. The team is working hard in preparation for the opening of the Berlin microfactory. It will be the headquarters of their EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) operations, and, as with all of the company’s microfactories, will also design, build, and sell small batches of locally relevant vehicles, reducing both environmental impact and a need for capital, as well as creating vehicles that are tailor-made to suit the needs of a specific region.
Local Motors has had employees in Germany for a few years, but they are now able to call the 1,500-square-meter microfactory home sweet home. The 11 employees currently working at the microfactory are comprised of vehicle and software engineers, leadership, and a project manager. The microfactory, centrally located in the German capital, has space for community events, offices, and vehicle production, just like the microfactories in Phoenix and Knoxville. The Phoenix microfactory was created for production of the company’s Rally Fighter, while the one in Knoxville features a big area 3D printer that’s able to build larger vehicles, like the 3D printed, self-driving Olli bus, which we had a chance to see at IMTS in Chicago this fall. The company’s microfactories allow for their big plans to take shape around the globe.
Olli will be the first vehicle in production at the Berlin microfactory, which is fitting, as the autonomous bus was born from the Urban Mobility Challenge: Berlin 2030 in 2015. It was created to help solve some of the mobility issues faced by Berlin and other similar, densely-populated cities.
According to the Local Motors website, some of Olli’s features include:
- Self-driving: Olli uses overlapping sensors, like radar and cameras, to drive itself, as it can see further ahead and react more quickly than a human
- Electric: Olli helps reduce the output of emissions in urban areas, and also cuts back on noise pollution
- Fleet-operated: Olli is part of a fleet management system; its operation center is designed to solve the transportation needs of large campuses and municipalities
- App: You can control your Olli trip from your phone, by finding existing routes, sharing an Olli, or chartering it on your own
The Berlin Local Motors microfactory is not quite complete, but an Olli frame has already arrived at the facility, which was an exciting moment for the employees.
Berlin Project Manager Doris Lohrmann said, “It was a great moment when the first European Olli frame arrived at our new microfactory… The facility is coming to life!”
According to the Local Motors website, their goal for innovative auto production is to keep their ideas big (their 3D printed Strati car and 3D printing process for vehicles come to mind), but their footprint small, by utilizing cleaner, smarter, and more efficient microfactories. The microfactory is on the site of a facility that was once used to manufacture tooling, so the floor was in pretty bad shape. But the space has been outfitted for Local Motors’ needs now, and the floor is just about ready for vehicle production.
Members of the Berlin maker community have had the opportunity to stop by the microfactory and see vehicle production right in front of their eyes, in addition to picking up some Local Motors swag. Local students have even been hosted at the microfactory, to work on several Local Motors projects and continue further building up the community of makers. The company is a strong advocate for co-creating, inviting local makers to come and participate in their group Labs events. Their co-creation community is 60,000 members strong, and they invite anyone, from novices to experts, to join them and help solve the problems that challenge our world. Discuss in the Local Motors forum at 3DPB.com.[Source/Images: Local Motors]
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