Talk to the Shuttle

Olli 2.0 is born. Local Motors and IBM had presented an autonomous shuttle in 2016 that reminded of the Smart Shuttle operated by PostAuto AG in Sion, Valais. Unlike this one, however, Olli 1.0 could not only think but also speak, both at a high level and with the help of IBM Watson. Passengers’ wishes are accepted, for example with regard to destinations, and these are even suggested; when it is hot, the car drives to the nearest ice cream parlour. Olli could also reassure passengers or passers-by: “For citizens of Maryland, many of whom have never seen a self-driving car, Watson’s reassuring communications could be critical to making them more comfortable with the idea that there’s no human being at the wheel.” (Information IBM) Olli 2.0, launched in 2019, can not only access IBM Watson, but also Amazon’s deep learning chatbot service Lex. Something else is different from the predecessor: Olli is now 80% 3D-printed. This was reported by Techcrunch on August 31, 2019. The magazine contains more interesting information about the shuttle. By the way, it is intended for small areas, especially for trade fairs and university campuses. But like the Smart Shuttle, it has already been tested in small cities.

Amazon’s Delivery Robots Arrive in Irvine, California

Transport and delivery robots convey items of all kinds, like parcels and purchases from one party (often the provider or broker) to another (often the customer) or they accompany and relieve pedestrians and cyclists of their burden. From 2016 to 2018, Swiss Post tested small transport robots by Starship Technologies in Berne. Amazon began testing autonomous robots in a suburb of Seattle at the beginning of the year. According to USA TODAY, they will deliver packages to customers in Irvine, California. Irvine is a university town with about 250,000 inhabitants. It was planned and built in the 1960s by the Irvine Company. “Amazon said the robots, which are light blue and have the Amazon smile logo stamped on its sides, are able to avoid crashing into trash cans or pedestrians. Still, a worker will accompany the robots at first.” (USA TODAY, 6 August 2019) This is, of course, an effort that cannot be operated indefinitely. Once the escort is removed, accidents are inevitable. Transport robots of this type are dangerous trip hazards. They also create enormous complexity in urban traffic. These problems were addressed in Oliver Bendel’s article “Service Robots in Public Spaces” in June 2017 which can be downloaded here.