For the next three months, employees at a business park in Rancho Cordova will be getting rides to their cars by way of some of the most advanced transportation technology available.
Olli, a 3D-printed, electric, autonomous shuttle made by Arizona-based manufacturing company Local Motors, debuted at the White Rock Corporate Campus Wednesday morning to showcase its technological capabilities.
The self-driving shuttles operate on a pre-programmed route around the campus’ parking lots, and will be picking up employees on the 518,156 square-foot campus to and from their cars and their offices.
Olli shuttles appeared at Sacramento State in January for a similar 90-day test run, collecting data and transporting students around campus. More recently, the electric vehicles were at Cal Expo for the California State Fair.
But Rancho Cordova’s time with Olli will be its first application in a business setting.
“We’re excited to really expand on those additional use cases,” Local Motors regional account manager Taylor Gygi said. “This is the first business complex that Local Motors has done with the Olli shuttles, really focused on employee transit.”
The White Rock Corporate Campus will be running two Olli shuttles from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., with an hour off at noon. The electric vehicles can drive for 40 miles on a single charge and can recharge at stations on the campus in 60 to 90 minutes, Gygi said. Olli will be driving under 5 mph, but has the capability to drive up to 25 mph.
The shuttles can comfortably seat eight people at a time and is accompanied by an attendant, who oversees the vehicle’s autonomous operations with the ability to take over manual control or pull an emergency brake.
The autonomous vehicles will automatically stop on their own if an object crosses its path using a series of cameras, GPS technology, radar and lidar — a radar-like system that uses reflected lasers for positioning.
But you don’t have to work at White Rock to take experience a ride on Olli. Gygi said anyone who is interested first must sign a waiver, then can park their cars at Rancho Cordova City Hall across the street from the business park, walk over and get in to check it out.
“We’re really interested in getting the local residents of Rancho Cordova — get their feedback on the vehicle, how they feel about it, overall comfort, and ideally, additional applications throughout the region,” Gygi said. Local Motors will be compiling data from the project after the three month test period.
The White Rock Corporate Campus employs 1,600 people and includes 30 corporate tenants in five buildings, property manager Lee Abbs of Basin Street Properties said.
“I think most initially will ride Olli just for the experience, but we do believe that they will utilize this because we do have such a wide area of parking,” Abbs said. “I think that it helps tenants, employees and us get used to the way technology is changing, and I think that companies that don’t embrace technology will be left behind and it’s so nice to be in the forefront of all this.”
Rancho Cordova Vice Mayor David Sander said city leadership is eyeing Local Motors’ autonomous technology hopefully, and sees potential for future applications such as light rail connections and shopping district shuttling.
“We’ve got great light rail not far from here, we’ve got a great regular transportation system, but we’re looking for options ...” Sander said. “If we could provide (commuters) a better option for getting to work that improves their quality of life, we’re very interested in that.”
The White Rock Olli project was funded by a $90,000 grant from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and $10,000 provided by the city of Rancho Cordova.
Local Motors has deployed Olli shuttles internationally, in areas including Adelaide, Australia; Seoul, South Korea and Berlin, Germany, plus a multitude of U.S. sites.
For more information about Olli and for links to waiver forms, go to rideolli.com.