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Local Motors, the company behind Olli the autonomous shuttle, is closing its doors this week.
The company began in 2007, but didn’t start dipping its toes into the world of autonomous vehicles until 2016 when it launched Olli.
Olli 1.0, the first version of the vehicle Local Motors made, is a low-speed pod that could run for 60 miles on a single charge. The shuttle was designed for environments like hospitals, military bases and universities.
In 2019, the company released the upgraded Olli 2.0. With a top speed of 25 miles per hour and the ability to run for 100 miles on a single charge, Olli 2.0 offered more range than the original version.
In October 2020, the company announced it would be testing Olli on the streets of Toronto. Olli hit the streets in 2021, but would only carry out tests until December, when an Olli 1.0 shuttle collided with a tree, resulting in the attendant being critically injured.
After the collision, the City of Toronto stopped its trials of the self-driving shuttles. An investigation by the Durham Regional Police Service found that the shuttle was being operated manually during the accident.
Local Motors is headquartered in Chandler, Arizona, and it runs two micro factories in Chandler and in Knoxville, Tennessee. These factories are where Olli is 3D-printed.
The company is shutting down due to a lack of funding, according to The Drive, the publication that broke the news.
Local Motors is the second company developing autonomous shuttle services to shut down this year. Optimus Ride announced that it would be closing operations and that its staff would be acquired by Magna International.
A source told The Robot Report the COVID-19 pandemic took a major toll on Optimus Ride’s business. The company’s main operating environments were retirement communities and commercial business parks. With people, especially the elderly, not leaving their homes during the earlier stages of the pandemic and remote work becoming more commonplace, Optimus Ride’s business took a hit, the source said.
While Local Motors has not made an official announcement regarding its closure, the news was confirmed by unofficial announcements from employees on LinkedIn.
“I am disheartened to announce that Local Motors will cease to exist as of January 14. I was only there a few months, but loved every minute of it. I made some great friends, both locally and globally, which makes it worthwhile,” Chris Stoner, former VP of sales and customer success at Local Motors, wrote. “The autonomous vehicle space is an exciting emerging market with plenty of opportunity. Experiencing first-hand the skill and dedication of the people I worked with, I have no doubt AVs (like Olli) are the future of transportation.”