Driverless Shuttles Arrive at Sacramento State

SACRAMENTO -- California State University will be the test bed for the new Olli driverless electric shuttle for the next three months.

It was a sought after distinction for city and regional officials, as well as the university.

The six-county Sacramento Area Council of Governments kicked in $90,000 to help Sacramento State win a competition that brought the shuttle to Sacramento.

Dignitaries took the maiden trip around a pre-programmed route through campus with an onboard steward. But his hands were not on the controls because the shuttle uses a variety of sensors to keep the eight-passenger shuttle on track and safe from unplanned obstacles.

Local Motors used a unique crowdsourced design plan, cherry-picking ideas from thousands of contributors to come up with the final product.

The box-like shuttles were produced in a small 3D-printing facility, cutting down on manufacturing costs. The development strategy is designed to be fast and agile, bringing products to market more quickly than traditional manufacturing and design practices.

"You are all using cell phones, which have technology that didn’t exist 12 months ago," Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers told a crowd that assembled for the kick-off of the shuttle.

He said bringing advanced ideas for moving people around to practical use should be equally fast and changeable.

The trial run will use the same techniques, changing software and even hardware as conditions change on campus. It’s also a chance for engineering students to provide input and learn from the new strategies used to produce the Olli shuttles.

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