Mobility solutions company LM Industries is judging entries for global autonomous fleet competition

Winners in Sacramento and Phoenix to be selected; cities worldwide soon to follow

By Skylar Griego

Mobility solutions company LM Industries Group, Inc., the parent company of vehicle manufacturer Local Motors, launched a global autonomous fleet competition called the Olli Fleet Challenge in September 2018.

According to a press release from Local Motors, the Olli Fleet Challenge “invites municipalities, campuses and designated districts to propose a three-month, local use for Olli, the world’s first co-created, self-driving, low-speed electric shuttle.”

Brittany Stotler, vice president of marketing at Local Motors, said the Olli Fleet Challenge was inspired as a natural extension of the intents behind the design and build of the Olli: adaptability and customization. The goal of the challenge is to collaborate with communities to see how autonomous vehicles will integrate with and successfully serve cities, she said.

“Olli is an eight-person, low-speed, autonomous electric shuttle, so it’s perfect for things like urban centers in cities, business campuses, hospitals or other large spaces where people need to get around,” she said. “We wanted to hear how the people who live and work in these places every day would use something like Olli, so we decided to partner directly with them and see what they came up with.”

Entrants must submit a proposal based on the information requested in the Olli Fleet Challenge Guidebook provided by Local Motors via Launch Forth, a mobility solutions community created by Local Motors. The proposed plans should address major points like deployment, storage and charging, routes and ridership, and how these would be addressed over a three-month usage of an Olli fleet.

So far, the Olli Fleet Challenge has only been opened to entrants in Sacramento and Phoenix. The final submissions were accepted on November 5, 2018. Stotler said the judges are reviewing the entries and will announce the winners—one in each city—in a few weeks.

“The winning submissions will receive a pod of Olli shuttles, a free lease for three months,” Stotler said. “Once the deployment has completed, we will review the data, uses and activity, offering insights to the winner as to how they can best utilize Olli moving forward to benefit their city, campus or area. LM Industries gets to learn from the cities’ use plans, and Sacramento and Phoenix receive autonomous shuttles to put their plans into action.”

The judges evaluating the entries in this first fleet challenge include Sandra Watson, the CEO and president of Arizona Commerce Authority, and Congresswoman Doris Matsui of California’s 6th District.

“Arizona is proud to be a place where companies come to test and scale transformative, cutting-edge technology,” Watson said in the press release. “We’re thrilled that LM Industries, which has called Arizona home to its Local Motors division headquarters for many years, is continuing to innovate in our state in new ways. The challenge will empower local organizations to participate in shaping the future of autonomous mobility from the operations, public safety and policy perspectives. I look forward to seeing the projects advanced that will help define the next generation of transportation.”

The second fleet challenge will launch in Australia and the Nordics, with additional challenges to follow in the coming months, according to the press release.

“Sacramento and Phoenix are leaders in autonomous innovation and exemplary founding cities for the Olli Fleet Challenge,” Stotler said. “There will be new cities announced worldwide soon so please stay tuned and we’ll share the upcoming news.”

Local Motors is also accepting requests to bring the Olli Fleet Challenge to your home city on its website.

Stotler said the team at Local Motors sees the Olli Fleet Challenge as the best opportunity for local governments or private entities around the world to envision, create and test the future of mobility in their own communities.

“[If they win], they get a fleet of autonomous shuttles running in their backyards. How cool is that,” she said. “It will be a great benefit for local communities because they can immediately put their use plan into action and give the city valuable insights on the future of transportation, urban development and autonomy in their neighborhoods.”