Perhaps the most exciting member of this year’s incoming freshman class at the University of Buffalo isn’t an athlete or academic all-star — it’s a self-driving shuttle named Olli.
Developed by Local Motors, Olli is powered by electricity, is made primarily of 3D-printed parts and can seat eight people. It uses LIDAR to navigate and is equipped with IBM’s Watson IoT technology (“I can answer your questions, recommend a coffee shop, or even tell you a joke!” according to its maker).
With a top speed of 25 mph, Olli is fast enough to get students from the commissary to Physics 101 in time for class, but it won’t be used that way for now. Instead UB researchers will use Olli to evaluate the feasibility of using self-driving cars on its campus. They hope their findings also will help them contribute to decisions about policy, safety and other future-of-transportation matters. “The Olli project — co-managed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) — supports Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s ambitious clean energy goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030,” the university said in a news release. And, according to Alicia Barton, president and CEO of NYSERDA, “The Olli project serves as another example of the private public collaboration that is driving the expansion of our clean energy economy and innovative technologies.”
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