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Self-Driving Shuttle Bus Shows up on Campus & OSU is Looking to Buy One

Brent Warren Brent Warren Self-Driving Shuttle Bus Shows up on Campus & OSU is Looking to Buy OnePhoto via Local Motors.
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Sharped-eyed observers on Ohio State University’s main campus might have spotted an unusual-looking vehicle cruising around on Tuesday.

Olli is the brand name of a 12-passenger van produced by an Arizona-based company called Local Motors. Designed to be fully autonomous, the rectangular-shaped shuttle was on campus for a “promotional and video shoot,” according to Benjamin Johnson, Director of Media and Public Relations.

Don’t be surprised if the vehicle makes a return visit to OSU, though.

“As the primary research partner for the Smart Columbus initiative, Ohio State is interested in purchasing an Olli,” said Johnson, clarifying that the one that was on campus Tuesday actually had a driver, but that a “fully autonomous Olli” could be back at OSU as soon as this winter.

Although Johnson said the vehicle would be utilized for “research purposes,” he declined to provide any additional details about where it would be operating or whether students would be able to actually ride in one, only saying, “we’ll have lots more to share when it gets to campus.”

Olli has gotten a lot of attention in the world of autonomous vehicles for its use of IBM’s artificial intelligence Watson (passengers can simply speak to tell it where to go), and for the fact that some of its parts are 3D-printed. The electric shuttles, which have a top speed of 12 miles per hour and a range of about 32 miles, are already being tested in the Washington, D.C. area.

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