Self-driving electric bus specially being developed for the disabled

IBM and Local Motors are developing an autonomous electric shuttle bus equipped with the technology to serve the disabled.

© Jorge Lascar at Flickr

Independent carmaker Local Motors and IBM are behind these buses dubbed “Olli”, which is designed to serve people with vision, hearing, physical, and cognitive disabilities. Olli combines artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and smartphone apps to achieve this. The electric shuttle bus is self-driving as well.

As reported by the MIT Technology Review, Olli uses IBM’s AI technology ‘Watson’ to interact with the passengers via voice and text displayed on an iPad. The self-driving bus navigates using radar, lidar, and optical cameras from a company called Meridian Autonomous.

“If a passenger has a medical problem or [there’s a safety issue], Olli will call the authorities or drive itself to a hospital or police station,” says Gina O’Connell, a Local Motors general manager who is leading the project.

The vehicle currently trials in Germany and Switzerland. IBM and Local Motors started collaborating back in early 2016  and produced a first iteration of the bus by June the same year.

If the buses enter production as planned by 2018, they would be among the earliest self-driving vehicles on the U.S. roads.

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