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Mobility company picks Mesa’s EVIT campus for autonomous shuttles

(Twitter Photo/@localmotors)

PHOENIX – Autonomous shuttles will make it easier to get around one East Valley campus next year.

Valley-based Local Motors announced Wednesday that the East Valley Institute of Technology in Mesa won its fleet challenge for the Phoenix area.

In January, the mobility company will deploy two of its electric Olli shuttles to the main campus of EVIT, which provides career and technical training for high school students and adults.

Jay Rogers, president and CEO of Local Motors, described the Olli as a “low-speed, cognitive, cute little shuttle.”

Thank you, Local Motors! We are excited to have #Olli on the EVIT Main Campus during the spring semester. #OlliFleet #WeAreEVIT

Posted by East Valley Institute of Technology, EVIT on Wednesday, December 12, 2018

“It’s kind of a box or living room on wheels,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

The shuttles will have a safety steward on board and perform multiple tasks on campus.

“They will run a bunch of different routes,” Rogers said. “They will take students, administrators, professors, teachers, visitors from one place to the next.”

The eight-passenger shuttles can also be used to transport items such as boxed lunches and heavy objects.

“Olli is pretty much an open book to be able to do all the things that happen on a campus, and it doesn’t need a driver,” Rogers said.

Sacramento State University also won a fleet challenge and will get two Ollis in January.

The competitions were open any entity where the shuttles could be put to use, including resorts, hospitals, downtown areas, arenas and assisted living facilities.

“We ran the Olli fleet challenge because … we’re seeing a lot of people who just simply don’t know it’s available, and they don’t know how to use it,” Rogers said.

“So we’re meeting people halfway … or more than halfway.”

Local Motors’ next contest will be in the Washington D.C. area.

“We’ll keep rolling out these challenges and keep seeing Ollis deployed in different areas,” Rogers said.

“We want people to come see it on the EVIT campus. They’re open for business.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Madison Spence contributed to this report.

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