Local Motors has created Olli, a self-driving electric shuttle connecting public transit riders, moving people around campuses, and eventually moving people in upcoming car-free downtown zones. It carries 12 people effortlessly and sustainably at 25 mph to local destinations and was the winning entry of Edgar Sarmiento’s (@eddie_mauro) in LM Labs’ international Urban Mobility Challenge.
#AccessibleOlli seeks to offers mobility, independence and freedom to the growing aging community as well as those with impairments. The leading ideas for this project will result in a prototype #AccessibleOlli show vehicle that will be built and shown at CES 2018 in Las Vegas. The ideas generated will also inform the production of future Olli vehicles.
#AccessibleOlli Introduction Video (3 min)
Given the expanding demographic of the aging public, along with new opportunities to apply powerful new IoT technologies to help those with impairments #AccessibleOlli will:
- Allow older adults to age in place and remain independent and self sufficient within their communities
- Assist those with vision, hearing, cognitive or physical mobility impairments to leverage transportation, improving their independence and quality of life
- Provide enhanced access to work opportunities and community services to people of all ages and abilities
- Ensure a successful transition to driverless vehicles for all.
While we understand that each riders needs are unique to them, we are focusing on the following to the four (4) tracks.
- Mobility impairment, e.g. wheelchair, walker
- Vision impairment, e.g. blind
- Hearing impairment, e.g. deaf or hard of hearing
- Cognitive impairment, e.g. memory deficiency
To meet the needs of aging and disabled populations, technology and AI will need new User Interfaces (UIs) that are completely redesigned to meet unique interaction requirements. Conventional vehicle UI will give way to access methods for people with less dexterous mobility, poorer hearing, lower vision and a variety of cognitive impairments. Voice commands and touchable interfaces will be required; new AIs will need new UIs. And we need personalization of every user experience, adapting the vehicle/occupant interaction to include language used, physical environment, and preferences with regards to modality of interaction - speech, text, touch (haptic).
IBM is showing the world the possibilities for new IoT solutions, allowing us to dream about the #AccessibleOlli and the future shuttle that everyone will be able to enjoy. This project is not about meeting a minimum of accessibility design.
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Foundation, IBM, and other companies are contributing to this project.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What is the intention of the #AccessibleOlli Challenge?
To design Olli to accommodate all riders, even those with disabilities. The challenge brings together product designers, vehicle designers, engineers, technologists, fabricators, design for disability experts, and many other participating disciplines to create a meaningful #AccessibleOlli design.
Q: Why focus on aging?
Today’s world populations are living longer and we need to address that fact in our new transportation systems. The United Nations estimates that by 2030 there will be a 56% increase in the number of people older than 60, and by 2050, the ‘over 80’ population will have nearly tripled.
Q: Why focus on disabilities?
Our mobility vehicles should accommodate any rider. In the past, it was difficult to address all rider’s needs that have impairments. Today with the power of IBM’s IoT technologies, there are many new solutions to be explored.
Q: Will accessibility design help all users?
It is possible the breakthrough new technologies available to rethink shuttle mobility for riders with disabilities could also result in new mobility UX solutions that make travel nicer for everyone.
Q: Is this really about ADA?
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 enables riders with certain disabilities a means to use public transit. The ADA requirements for a self-driving shuttle have yet to be defined. #AccessibleOlli is seeks to make the Olli autonomous shuttle functional for as many people as possible.
Q: Is there any autonomous ADA compliant vehicle today?
We don’t know of one. We should also mention that every public transit vehicle on the streets of the US has a human operator, that often assists in wheelchair loading and securement.
Q: Olli is a local shuttle. How does that impact accessibility design?
Most passengers will ride Olli for relatively short trips and will seek quick loading (and un-loading) for all, or they may prefer to walk?
Q: What is Olli occupancy?
Olli’s current design calls for 8 people seated and 4 standing. That layout could change based on the #AccessibleOlli Challenge design results.
Q: What is the role of IBM Watson technology?
IBM Watson offers AI capabilities including machine vision, natural language processing and the ability to ‘learn’ user preferences. This creates unique opportunities for engaging humans to make them feel comfortable, personalizing human experiences, addressing their challenges, and earning human trust (which supports and coincides with trust-building happening between humans and autonomous vehicles, naturally and over time). IBM Watson technology imbedded in Olli, provides personalization opportunities that can be tailored for each unique user’s experience
Q: How can Olli accommodate a rider in a wheelchair?
Local Motors is seeking solutions from the #AccessibleOlli Challenge as to how a passenger in a wheelchair is accommodated on Olli. There is a wide range of needs for Olli to carry a passenger in a wheelchair, from the wheelchair rider arranging for the trip, to boarding, being secured in an automated manner, to exiting and so on. When someone in a wheelchair approaches Olli, a ramp will need to be activated or another approach to boarding the rider. Once inside, Olli could activate a seat to fold up for securing the wheelchair.
Q: How can Olli help a rider that is blind or has difficulty seeing?
Olli seeks to leverage IoT technology to help those with visual impairment move freely. This rider may need help arranging a ride, navigating to Olli, navigating onto Olli, securing a seat / location on the vehicle, be alerted when time to exit Olli, and exiting Olli at their destination. they also are able to know they are going to exactly the right place - and they can use voice control to route there, giving them confidence to travel and explore.
Q: How can Olli help a rider that is deaf or has trouble hearing?
The #AccessibleOlli co-creation project seeks solutions that apply the latest IoT technologies so those passengers with hearing impairments can easily use the Olli shuttle. Olli needs to have more signage, more visual info and cues (inside and outside) than public transit currently offers.
Q: What other approaches work for people with hearing impairments?
Someone that communicates via sign language may board #AccessibleOlli, use sign language to communicate “Take me to the library”, and #AccessibleOlli may have an avatar / hologram / screen that actually responds back in sign language.
Q: Since there is no human operator on Olli, does that make IoT technology more important?
Yes, If there is no bus driver, then who welcomes you aboard? Who do you talk to? Who tells you what to do? Who answers your questions and addresses your concerns? Who tells you where you’re going and when you’re arriving? These are all considerations for a small self-driving transit vehicle.