AMS Spring 2023

AI to Enhance Rider Experience and Accessibility for 3D Printed Olli Shuttle

Inkbit

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Local Motors continues to revamp its Olli 2.0 shuttle, which features a chassis made from 80 percent 3D printed parts. After receiving a $15 million infusion in fall 2020, the autonomous vehicle (AV) manufacturer has initiated a partnership with door2door for managing Olli shuttle fleets. It then placed a large order for electric motors for its 3D printed Ollis. Next, it began testing out Goodyear’s airless 3D printed tires. Local Motors’ latest partnership will bring the computer vision applications of alwaysAI to the autonomous shuttles.

Olli 2.0, the mostly 3D printed, autonomous electric shuttle. Image courtesy of Local Motors.

alwaysAI will introduce some automated accessibility features and an improved passenger experience to Local Motors’ AVs. In turn, the vehicles will be able to serve a greater number of passengers, increase utilization, and enhance rider safety. The companies don’t specific exactly what this will look like in the real world, only saying that the deep learning computer vision software will offer “smarter and safer onboarding experiences, particularly for customers with unique assistance needs.” This includes veterans in Palo Alto, CA.

“Computer vision is a critical part of the new transportation industry. CV provides intelligent sight to autonomous vehicles, like the shuttles from Local Motors, and presents a significant opportunity to improve services and features as AVs spread across our communities,” said Marty Beard, co-founder & CEO of alwaysAI.

alwaysAI offers technology that streamlines the process of training AI for intended applications using simple APIs. In turn, developers can more quickly deploy computer vision for such uses as object detection, classification, tracking, counting and semantic segmentation.

In the case of Olli, we can imagine the shuttle being able to recognize wheelchairs and canes and respond appropriately, maybe notifying other riders to make space or automatically opening up a portion of the shuttle for wheelchair placement. We could imagine similar uses for pregnant people and caregivers with strollers.

alwaysAI's deep learning computer vision can recognize, track, count objects and more. Image courtesy of alwaysAI.

alwaysAI’s deep learning computer vision can recognize, track, count objects and more. Image courtesy of alwaysAI.

Local Motors says that alwaysAI’s technology will also be used to “improve overall in-cabin experience and safety.” Perhaps this means that screens within the shuttle would turn on or engage with a rider when that rider looks at them. It could potentially count the number of passengers onboard, notifying door2door apps to forgo picking up any other passengers. So, we’re thinking of in-cabin AI, rather than the AI used to navigate streets, which is instead powered by Robotic Research’s AutoDrive.

“This partnership is critical to unlocking new value for our customers,” says Vikrant Aggarwal, President of Local Motors. “Our work with alwaysAI® is another example of Local Motors’ strategy to be open and integrate the best technology into Olli.”

From Local Motors’ progress, it seems as though the startup has made sufficient headway in terms of manufacturing, already having developed the ability to 3D print the chassis of its vehicles using Big Area Additive Manufacturing from Cincinnati Incorporated. Now, it’s working on establishing the proper artificial intelligence technology for its shuttles and creating a fully fleshed out experience for its riders.

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