A vehicle powerhouse with Southeastern connections announced the expansion of operations with the opening of a National Harbor, Maryland facility earlier this month.

Local Motors, with locations in Knoxville, Tennessee, not only opened a Northeastern base but also introduced Olli, a self-driving vehicle, and praised the partnership of the Institute for Advanced Composites during the grand opening event.

iacmi-logoHundreds gathered for the event, including U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Bruce Andrews.  During his speech Andrews lauded Local Motors’ innovation, IACMI and IACMI CEO Craig Blue, which are based in Knoxville.

“I am pleased to see Dr. Craig Blue, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, here with us. This Institute is developing new advanced composite materials with the goal of creating products that are lighter and stronger than anything on the market today. They’re also testing out new, cost-effective recycling methods for the automotive industry. And they’re partnering with dozens of companies, including Local Motors, to get technology out of the lab, into the market, and on the road.”

Craig Blue, IACMI CEO and Mark Johnson, Director of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, participated in the unveiling event.

The vehicle, dubbed ‘Olli,’ was unveiled during the grand opening of the new Local Motors facility and transported Local Motors CEO and co-founder John B. Rogers, Jr. along with vehicle designer Edgar Sarmiento from the Local Motors co-creation community into the new facility. The electric vehicle, which can carry up to 12 people, is equipped with some of the world’s most advanced vehicle technology, including IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive, to improve the passenger experience and allow natural interaction with the vehicle.

Olli will be used on public roads locally in DC, and late in 2016 in Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas.

“Olli offers a smart, safe and sustainable transportation solution that is long overdue,” Rogers said. “Olli with Watson acts as our entry into the world of self-driving vehicles, something we’ve been quietly working on with our co-creative community for the past year. We are now ready to accelerate the adoption of this technology and apply it to nearly every vehicle in our current portfolio and those in the very near future. I’m thrilled to see what our open community will do with the latest in advanced vehicle technology.”

Read more on the Local Motors Blog.