Global design firm Stantec and Local Motors, a US-based technology company that designs, builds and sells vehicles, have entered into a strategic partnership to accelerate the worldwide implementation of connected self-driving vehicles.

The two companies will combine resources and provide a full suite of services in the delivery of the Local Motors Olli, a self-driving, cognitive shuttle. It will be targeted for use by transit agencies, cities, states, universities, hospitals and the private sector, making connected automated vehicles (CAV) a reality.

Responding to increased international demand for shared-use transit shuttles, the firms will jointly provide all of the necessary professional services and vehicles to meet client requirements.

Active in the CAV market, Stantec is currently serving as program manager for GoMentum Station in Concord, CA, a 2,000-acre secure vehicle testing facility, and acting as the lead civil engineer in the Canada-based ACTIVE-AURORA, the first connected vehicle testbed in Canada. Stantec and Local Motors will investigate several opportunities to test Olli, with the goal of determining ideal use cases for the vehicle.

“Stantec brings a wealth of understanding and experience in CAV, and its relationship to the evolving concept of Smart Cities, including first mile/last mile transit,” said Koorosh Olyai, Stantec senior principal. “The talented designers at Local Motors have demonstrated their international leadership in automated vehicles … this will undoubtedly be an inspiring collaboration.”

In June, Local Motors unveiled Olli, the industry’s first self-driving vehicle to integrate the advanced cognitive computing capabilities of IBM Watson.

Designed by Local Motors’ co-creation community — now 60,000 members strong — Olli can operate on-demand via mobile app or on a pre-planned route. The vehicle’s cognitive software allows it to answer riders’ questions about its capabilities, status and why it made a particular decision. The software is intended to make a new experience — riding in a shared, self-driving vehicle — more pleasant for riders.

“Our emphasis on micro-manufacturing means that Local Motors can incorporate the most advanced automotive technologies into our vehicle designs. These technologies have new and unprecedented opportunities for CAV,” said Hugh Palmer, vice president of product management at Local Motors. “We see Stantec as a tremendous ally in bringing automated transit solutions to market.”