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IBM Watson Equips Local Motors’ Self-Driving Vehicle, “Olli”

IBM has made a surprise entry into the self-driving vehicle market. The tech giant’s sophisticated cognitive computing system Watson has been integrated into an autonomous vehicle for the first time, with the unveil of Local Motors’ “Olli” in National Harbor, MD this morning.

Olli, which can transport up to 12 people, uses IBM Watson Internet of Things to analyze and learn from significant amounts of transportation data made by over 30 sensors embedded throughout the vehicle. Passengers can also interact seamlessly with the vehicle, thanks to its use of four Watson developer APIs: Speech to Text, Natural Language Classifier, Entity Extraction and Text to Speech.

Watson enables Olli to, before or during a journey, understand and reply to various types of questions from passengers – such as “Olli, can you take me downtown?”, “How does this feature work?” and “Are we there yet?” Passengers can also request recommendations of where to visit; Olli can analyze personal preferences and make suggestions accordingly.

This summer, the first Olli will remain in National Harbor – where, at select times during the following several months, the public can interact with it for a better insight into its capabilities. Further Ollies are being produced at Local Motors’ headquarters near Phoenix, which will soon help the firm to expand on-road Olli usage, currently limited to Washington, DC, to Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas as well.

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