Local Motors has started a pilot project to move packages via autonomous electric shuttles for the first time at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) in Miramar, California.
The project will utilize Local Motors’ Olli self-driving shuttle and it is being conducted in collaboration with U.S. Ignite and NavalX SoCal Tech Bridge as part of the 5G Living Lab. The drone delivery is being funded through the Office of Naval Research and Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific with $4 million being offered to support multiple pilot projects aimed at improving military base operations through technology.
Military personnel at MCAS will be directly engaged in shuttle operations to gain autonomous vehicle experience and determine the benefits of the technology for potential base and deployment applications. From there, the data collected from the deliveries will be transferred via a 5G network and analyzed for 90 days during the pilot.
"MCAS Miramar's deployment of the Olli demonstrates the dual-use opportunity of autonomous electric vehicles on installations to transport both people and goods,” said Lieutenant Colonel Brandon Newell, the tech bridge director at NavalX SoCal. “It highlights the importance of early engagement with companies and how fostering a collaborative effort provides efficient dual-use technologies."
MCAS said pilot programs such as the one with Local Motors provides insights into the technology performance and the potential for automated vehicles as the military upgrades and optimizes base operations to include more technological innovations.
Local Motors is collaborating with mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) vendor Beep to create an autonomous vehicle shuttle fleet in the U.S. in the coming years. Under the agreement, self-driving shuttles would be on both public and private roads broadly across the country using the Olli 2.0 3D-printed shuttles. The companies will work to expand the operating domain of the multi-passenger, self-driving vehicles with its testing and information sharing program through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).