Students at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia will be among some of the earliest to trial self-driving vehicles. The university, through a partnership with Local Motors by LM Industries and EasyMile, has introduced autonomous shuttles at its campus as part of a pilot project.
Local Motors and EasyMile are two leading developers of autonomous driving technology. Local Motors, as our readers will likely know, is the creator of the self-driving, electric-powered Olli shuttle. The innovative vehicle has been on our radar for some time because many of its parts are 3D printed. (Local Motors is also known for developing the world’s first 3D printed car!)
EasyMile, for its part, is a developer of driverless mobility solutions that has been working in the boundary-pushing field since 2014. The company has deployed over 230 driverless projects across 27 countries, serving a range of customers, from airports, business parks and universities to transport operators and more.
KAUST, Local Motors and EasyMile have collaborated over the shared desire to advance the adoption of autonomous driving technologies. KAUST, an innovative university in its own right, offers the ideal environment for trialling the two companies’ self-driving shuttles.
“KAUST is a living laboratory for digital transformation and we pride ourselves on being an innovation hub in the region for developing and adopting advanced technology,” explained Tony Chan, President of KAUST. “Implementing self-driving vehicle technology underscores our strong AI research base and the flexibility of our campus community, which make KAUST an ideal partner to adopt and demonstrate smart city user experiences for the Kingdom.”
The trial will enable Local Motors and EasyMile to work with KAUST researchers to gather vital performance data to improve and fine tune the respective driverless technologies. Both the 3D printed Olli shuttle by Local Motors and EasyMile’s EZ10 will be deployed as of December 15th and operated by the Saudi Public Transport Co.
“Saudi Arabia has enormous potential for the autonomous shuttle market, not only for vehicle deployments, but also for the growth and acceleration of AV capabilities,” said Vikrant Aggarwal, the President of Local Motors. “We are excited to deploy Olli at KAUST to showcase how our unique digital manufacturing process enhances rider experience through connectivity, customization, and safety while contributing to the research opportunities at KAUST.”
The autonomous shuttles will utilize mapping, cognitive response technology, light detection and ranging (Lidar) and obstacle avoidance systems to navigate the KAUST campus. Notably, both shuttles are also electric, offering a sustainable transport solution for students and KAUST visitors.
Local Motors’ Olli shuttle has also been trialled at other universities, including Sacramento State.