May 11, 2017 | By Tess

Local Motors, the maker of the world’s first road-ready 3D printed car, has successfully 3D printed the first self-driving shuttle, called Olli, at its Knoxville, Tennessee micro-factory.

In the world of self-driving cars, the mere mention of Arizona-based company Local Motors gets people listening, as the company has been at the forefront of developing not just autonomous vehicles, but 3D printed autonomous vehicles. The Olli self-driving shuttle, possibly the first 3D printed transit vehicle in existence, has been in the works for some time, and we’ve been following its development closely.

In 2016, Local Motors debuted Olli at its facility in National Harbor, MD, and saw it hit the road in Washington, DC shortly thereafter. More recently, the innovative vehicle got the attention of German railway company Deutsche Bahn, which is planning on testing the self-driving shuttle throughout the year.

Now, it seems Knoxville is getting some of the self-driving action, as Local Motors has unveiled the first Olli to be additively manufactured at its micro-factory there. The self-driving vehicle, which is contained within a small, cubic frame, runs on electric power and can even be customized to the clients wants and needs.

“Now campuses and cities don’t have to fit a generic shuttle to it, rather a new shuttle can be designed and printed to fit to it instead. This is completely revolutionary,” writes Local Motors in a blog post about its 3D printed self-driving bus.

The same blog post explains how the company’s 3D printing process allows for pretty much unprecedented levels of customization in car manufacturing. Whereas traditional car manufacturing requires years of engineering and tooling for a single car mode (which is then produced on a mass scale), 3D printing has opened the doors for small-batch and tailored manufacturing.

In Knoxville, Tennessee, Olli is expected to be on the streets this fall, where it will be trialled at events at the World’s Fair Park and Chilhowee Park. The 3D printed mini-bus can carry up to 12 people at once, and can navigate streets and obstacles thanks to a complex system of sensors and cameras.

“Tennessee is one of the first eight states to allow driverless cars on public roads,” said Local Motors CEO John B. Rogers Jr. last month. “Knoxville is the town in which Local Motors 3D printed its first car. 3D printing unlocks vehicle makers of the future to adopt technologies of the future faster than ever before. Therefore, it is no surprise that Knoxville, Local Motors and Tennessee would see Olli on the road first."



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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