Merchant Innovation

Olli Is IBM's Self-Driving Shuttle (And Answer To Google)

IBM Debuts Self-Driving Shuttle

The connected car is a certain part of the future — if it isn't one already. What still seems up in the air are self-driving cars. Will they have a place on the roads alongside human drivers? And if so, will consumers really buy their cars from companies like Google?

Not if IBM has anything to say about it — which is that its self-driving shuttle is a better option.

That possibility became much more likely on Thursday (June 16) when IBM started real-world tests of Olli, its self-driving shuttle that turns passengers' voice commands into a smooth and carefree ride, Recode reported. Watson, the face of IBM's artificial intelligence arm, is the force behind Olli, which is now driving around the streets of National Harbor, Maryland, for testing.

National Harbor is also the home of Local Motors, the group behind the physical makeup of the shuttle, so maintenance shouldn't be a problem. IBM also has plans to start trials in Las Vegas and Florida's Miami-Dade county by the end of the year.

The trials in Florida and Nevada are part of a pilot program to introduce the public to a reality of self-driving cars on the road, and the single Olli model will be supplemented with several others before 2017.

In fact, a Local Motors official wasn't afraid to be optimistic about Olli's spread.

“It’s quite possible we build several hundred by the end of this year,” the spokesperson said.

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