In an effort to make autonomous transportation accessible for all, Local Motors will deploy their autonomous shuttle, Olli, to help veterans move around the Veterans Administration Hospital in Palo Alto, California. As a part of a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) pilot project, partners led test runs at a San Jose location, demonstrating the capabilities of the new automated, ADA-compliant ramp.

With help from Prospect Silicon Valley, this project is the nation’s first autonomous vehicle project to focus entirely on accessibility. The project is anchored by the development of three new features: a Smarter AI Gateway that applies precision AI models to Olli’s internal and external cameras to notify Olli when a passenger is using a mobility device, an automated wheelchair ramp, developed by BraunAbility, and a ride-hailing application that allows mobility device users to customize their ride preferences, built by Liftango.

The project’s next phase will have passengers interact with these accessibility features at the VA Hospital campus in Palo Alto, operating in mixed traffic from the VA hospital complex to the Palo Alto and Mountain View transit centers. The multi-stage Accessible Automated Vehicle Project was funded using a grant facilitated by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Other partners in this venture are Robotic Research and Mineta Transportation Institute.