Automated driving project OLLI


A self-driving vehicle known as “Olli” was developed and built in Phoenix, Arizona in a joint project conducted by various partners under the direction of the U.S. company Local Motors. The autonomous minibus was then presented to the public in Washington, D.C. Schaeffler Paravan is very proud to have made a major contribution to this innovative and pioneering project with its fail safe Space Drive drive-by-wire system, which helps ensure the roadworthiness of the Olli minibus. Space Drive makes Olli the first autonomous people mover with multi-redundant (fail-safe operational) control of acceleration, braking, and steering.
Now that it’s been officially presented, Olli will be used on public roads in the Washington D.C. area, and in Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas as well starting at the end of 2016.

The OLLI Project

Olli is a self-driving minibus for future passenger transport in urban areas (e.g. airports, inner cities, trade fair sites, amusement parks) that can accommodate up to 12 people comfortably. The project that led to its creation was managed by the U.S. company Local Motors. With the help of seven partners from around the world, Olli was equipped with the most cutting-edge technologies for autonomous driving in the future. Thanks to the innovative Schaeffler Paravan Space Drive system, all different types of sensor and GPS data can be collected in the vehicle, processed, and then forwarded in an absolutely fail-safe manner to sophisticated servo motors that control acceleration, braking, and steering. Olli is thus a unique self-driving passenger transport vehicle with fail-safe and street legal drive-by-wire technology.
Olli is the first vehicle to utilize the cloud-based cognitive computing capability of the IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) platform to analyze and learn from high volumes of transportation data – in Olli’s case, data produced by more than 30 sensors embedded throughout the vehicle. The open vehicle development process used by Local Motors makes it possible to control the sensors and continuously adjust them as needed. The Schaeffler Paravan Space Drive drive-by-wire system serves as the interface for the sensors and for fail-safe control of vehicle acceleration, braking, and steering. Olli also utilizes four Watson developer APIs – Speech to Text, Natural Language Classifier, Entity Extraction, and Text to Speech – in order to enable seamless interaction between the vehicle and passengers.


Passengers can converse with Olli while driving from point A to point B – for example they can chat about how Olli functions and ask questions about the route and why Olli makes specific driving decisions. A specially developed cloud solution enables Olli to understand the questions and react when passengers enter the bus. Passengers can request destinations (“Olli, can you take me downtown?”), ask about specific vehicle functions (“How does this feature work?”), or even ask “Are we there yet?” Passengers can also ask for personalized recommendations for local travel destinations, such as popular restaurants or historic sites. This interaction with Olli is designed to make the driving experience for passengers as comfortable as possible as they enjoy a completely autonomous journey.

The self-driving Olli minibus will soon be on the road in Germany as well. Read our blog post OLLI SELF-DRIVING MINIBUS PROJECT ON TV

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