Future of Transportation Set to Roll on Sacramento State Campus
Olli Fleet Challenge win highlights the value of Civic Lab incubator

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December 12, 2018: Civic Lab 2018 was always supposed to fast-forward innovative mobility solutions but perhaps no one anticipated the future arriving quite as quickly as it has.

Today a team from Sacramento State was named as the Sacramento winner of the Olli Fleet Challenge, meaning a fleet of the eight-passenger, driverless Olli shuttles will be rolling around the university’s campus this spring. 

The world’s first 3D-printed, co-created autonomous vehicles will run along Moraga Way, a private pathway on the Sacramento campus, where it will give staff, students, and the public a chance to experience the innovative technology.

Sacramento State’s Olli challenge win was helped by the work the team had done in the Sacramento Area Council of Government’s (SACOG ) Civic Lab, an eight-month incubator for smart mobility projects. Teams from across the Sacramento region brought a mobility problem to the lab and with the help of national experts, private technology companies, and SACOG, worked on pilot project concepts that focused on how disruptive technology can solve local transportation problems.  

The first year of Civic Lab was backed with $1 million to implement projects that drew a $1 million match from the private sector. In 2019 the second year of Civic Lab will focus on pilot projects to help revitalize commercial corridors.  

By embracing the risk of the new and challenging themselves to find innovative solutions to how to get students, staff, and visitors safely around campus the Sacramento State team used their Civic Lab experience to set themselves up to be “shovel-ready” when it came to applying to the Olli challenge. The SACOG board helped implement the pilot by awarding the project $88,000.  

“Sacramento State is proud to partner with SACOG and its Civic Lab program to provide an autonomous vehicle pilot project to the Sacramento State community and the Sacramento region,” said Tony Lucas, the senior director of University Support Services at Sacramento State, who led the university’s Civic Lab team.

“Through the Civic Lab process, our team developed a proposal for the use of autonomous vehicles to provide intra-campus mobility on the Sacramento State campus. The Civic Lab process encouraged the use of innovative technologies to solve complex transportation issues. The autonomous vehicle pilot project will directly involve transportation engineering students, providing Sac State students real world experience with this emerging transportation technology.  SACOG and its Civic Lab process was instrumental in making Sacramento State’s award submission a real winner.”

“We at SACOG are proud of the winning efforts of the team at Sacramento State and look forward to seeing the Olli fleet in action on their campus,” said James Corless, the executive director of SACOG. “Their success was forged in our Civic Lab incubator project, which helps public agencies look for innovative solutions to local and regional challenges through new and disruptive technologies. An Olli fleet pilot project is a great outcome for Sacramento State and will help showcase the technologies to tackle the transportation challenges of the future.” 

The small fleet of Ollis is being loaned to Sacramento State by Local Motors, and students in Professor Ghazan Khan’s Traffic Engineering class will use them as a classroom on wheels. “This is going to provide an opportunity to study the application of autonomous vehicles up-close and conduct surveys of users on public opinion towards autonomous vehicle use and technology,” Khan said.  

“We are excited to see these shuttles deployed at Sac State,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, one of the challenge judges. “Here in Sacramento, we are creating a testing ground for autonomous, electric, and shared-vehicle technologies.  

“Having the next generation of innovators experience them and test them first-hand creates a pathway, not just to a sustainable future for our environment, but for our economy and the next generation of jobs,” he said.