East Valley Institute of Technology students could soon be getting a lift around campus, thanks to the world’s first co-created, self-driving, electric shuttle.
The main Mesa campus at Main Street and Dobson Road has been chosen as the winner of the Local Motors Olli Challenge, meaning it will receive a pair of eight-person, driverless Olli shuttles to try out for about three months.
The Mesa school and Sacramento State University in California were each picked for the first challenge trial. The global fleet challenge invited municipalities, campuses and designated districts to propose a short-term, local use for Olli.
A panel of judges evaluated the submissions and picked EVIT for the Phoenix-area deployment over several other entrants. The company hasn’t released who else applied for the opportunity.
EVIT, the first joint technical education district in Arizona, will share its data from the shuttles with Olli engineers to help improve its performance and spark ideas for future models.
“Olli is already transforming the way we think about transportation and it is showing us … that autonomous vehicles can be safe, sustainable and practical,” said Local Motors CEO and co-founder Jay Rogers. “We look forward to the insights that will come from each deployment as the ever-changing industry of autonomous vehicles continues to evolve.”
Chandler-based Local Motors specializes in 3D-printed mobility solutions and once helped develop the world’s first all-3D-printed car.
It calls the shuttle it developed “designed to change the future of mobility.”
Potential uses for the shuttle include transportation option for cities, companies, hospitals, campuses, stadiums, entertainment districts and any other location where people need to move from one place to another.
What EVIT chooses to do with the fleet still isn’t known. Because the challenge was “closed,” Local Motors isn’t revealing the plans publicly.
Wherever they end up, Local Motors engineers will soon begin mapping the locations where the shuttles will run.
Think of it like using a Roomba robotic vacuum mapping your living room when you turn it on for the first time.
After a couple weeks of mapping, officials are hoping to deploy the fleets of shuttles for the public to use in Mesa and Sacramento by the end of next month.
Local Motors has already announced the Greater Washington, D.C.-area as the location for its second challenge.
The newest challenge, which is open to entries from the Greater Washington, D.C-area, runs through Feb. 6.
“Local Motors’ Olli challenge is sure to ignite more innovation around the future of autonomous transportation,” said Shailen Bhatt, president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.
“I am passionate about technology’s ability to save lives on our roadways, so I’m thrilled about this project.”