Jan 16, 2017 | By Benedict

German railway company Deutsche Bahn is planning to road-test Local Motors’ ‘Olli’ minibus throughout 2017. A fleet of the 3D printed autonomous vehicles, which use AI software IBM Watson, could be introduced in either Berlin or the Bavarian municipality of Bad Birnbach.

Terrifying as autonomous driving can seem, vehicles like Local Motors’ Olli, a self-driving bus built collaboratively by members of the online engineering community, represent the future of road transport. Local Motors took its 3D printed autonomous bus onto the roads of Washington DC last summer, and now it looks like Europe is getting in on the action too, with German railway company Deutsche Bahn currently working with Local Motors to bring the Olli minibus experience to either Berlin or Bad Birnbach, depending on approval.

With space for up two twelve passengers and a reported top speed of 25mph, the Olli is smaller and slower than your average bus. But then again, those certainly aren’t the biggest differences between the autonomous 3D printed vehicle and your standard single-decker. Like all things futuristic, Olli is operated by an app, which travelers can download to set pick-up and drop-off destinations, track movement, and even pay fares. The bus is also electric, can “talk” to its passengers, and is of course fully self-driving, using “overlapping sensors like radar, lidar, and cameras to see further ahead and react more quickly than a human.”

Deutsche Bahn, seeing potential in the Olli project, has taken one of the vehicles for testing in the Schöneberg district of Berlin, and plans to operate 50 of them in 2017. According to Deutsche Bahn, the fleet of autonomous 3D printed buses could be deployed in either Berlin or Bad Birnbach, on a stretch of road between the train station and a spa hotel. “In five years, hundreds of autonomous vehicles will be traveling the streets of Berlin waiting to be called into service,” said Damien Declercq, executive vice president of Local Motors.

Although it plans to take its fleet of Local Motors buses onto public streets later this year, Deutsche Bahn has been testing the 3D printed vehicle at the Euref Campus, an innovation center for developing sustainable urban solutions. Hosting over 100 companies and 2,500 employees from a range of industries, the Euref Campus can now also claim to be one of the first sites using an Olli minibus. The vehicle, operated by Deutsche Bahn, serves up to 100 riders a day, Monday to Friday, from 9:00 to 17:00, and gives the German railway company a chance to learn more about the autonomous vehicle before purchasing more.

Local Motors, the company behind the Olli minibus, has also developed a number of high-profile 3D printed cars, including the Strati and LM3D.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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