Knoxville's first self-driving trolley will be rolling around downtown later this year.
Olli was created by Knoxville-based Local Motors, which designs, builds and sells vehicles. Visit Knoxville will use Olli on a limited basis this fall for events at World's Fair Park and at Chilhowee Park.
“This is amazing technology and one that we are proud to have debuting in Knoxville,” Visit Knoxville President Kim Bumpas said. “The fact that we will be able to offer this to our conventions and visitors might just be a game changer for our city.”
The electric trolley will carry up to 12 people at a time. It drives itself using sensors and cameras and can react faster than a driving human, but during the testing phase this fall, a Local Motors operator will be aboard the vehicle.
“Tennessee is one of the first eight states to allow driverless cars on public roads. Knoxville is the town in which Local Motors 3D printed its first car,” said Local Motors CEO John B. Rogers Jr. “3D printing unlocks vehicle makers of the future to adopt technologies of the future faster than ever before. Therefore, it is no surprise that Knoxville, Local Motors and Tennessee would see Olli on the road first."
Visit Knoxville plans to make Olli available for conventions and paid tours of the city in late 2018. Olli will make its Knoxville debut this September during Innov865 Week, which celebrates Knoxville’s entrepreneurial spirit by bringing together startups, entrepreneurs and the East Tennessee community for a week of educational panels, pitch competitions, investor roundtables, and social events.
“Knoxville is home to leading transportation innovators, and it is exciting that we will get to share some of their work with the public,” Mayor Rogero said. “Thanks to Local Motors and Olli, we could be the city where many people ride their in first self-driving vehicle.”