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IBM Watson Supercomputer Powers Self-Driving 3D Printed Bus

By Victor Thomson , Jun 18, 2016 05:10 AM EDT
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IBM unveiled its first project in the self-driving cars industry. The company's artificial intelligence (AI) platform, IBM Watson, is powering Olli, an electric 3D printed bus designed by Local Motors.

The EV can carry up to 12 people. The vehicle designed by Local Motors and powered by IBM Watson is also partially recyclable.

The new self-driving electric minibus was unveiled in National Harbor during the opening of Maryland new Local Motors' facility. The event showcased innovative techniques in recycling of 3D-printed cars. The company is planning to open soon more microfactories.

Tech Crunch reports that Local Motors, the company that designed the minibus, is a car maker based in Arizona that aims to bring down the cost of producing cars on a low-volume basis by implementing newer technologies like 3D. The Olli minibus will be used first in Washington, DC, then expand to deployments in Las Vegas and Miami-Dade County later this year.

According to IBM, the electric minibus will be tested in trial runs around Washington D.C. all summer long. A pilot project will run in later in Miami-Dade County to transport people using these autonomous vehicles. Olli will even be tested in Berlin, Germany.

IBM and Local Motors have worked together before on the Rally Fighter concept car presented on Local Motors website. However, the Olli electric driverless minibus would be the first commercial product resulted from the partnership of the two companies.

A special version of Watson Internet of Things platform aimed at automotive applications will be used for Olli. However, according to a statement from IBM, the Watson supercomputer is not fully powering the car's self-driving features but it is aimed instead at "improving the passenger experience."

According to Tech Times, the software interface of Olli is user-friendly and intelligent, able to understand natural human language. The minibus is the first EV to use cloud-based computing capability.

Olli offers a safe, smart and sustainable transportation solution. Passengers will be able to call an Olli minibus for a ride by using an app similar to that used today for Uber cars.

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