Local Motors
Local Motors

This 3D-Printed, Driverless Bus Is Now Giving Test Rides

Local Motors
Local Motors

Instead of using Uber, customers of the future may be hitching rides in driverless, 3D-printed shuttle buses. That's the vision of Local Motors, an Arizona-based startup that began giving test rides in their autonomous minibus for the first time this week, Phys.org reports.

Olli looks unlike anything else on the road today. The boxy electric bus carries up to 12 people at a time, and most of its components were made with a 3D-printer. Local Motors hopes to eventually make the vehicles printable in about 10 hours from one of hundreds of "micro factories" they would set up around the world.

Instead of a physical driver, IBM's Watson computing platform acts as the interface. Passengers can tell it verbally where they want to go and ask it questions like how the vehicle works, why it chooses certain routes, and what restaurants and attractions are nearby. The long-term goal of the project is to compete with ride-sharing services like Uber by allowing customers to hail one through an app. The first model is currently undergoing a trial run in National Harbor, Maryland, 10 miles outside of D.C., during which it will be monitored by a human attendant full-time.

Additional tests are expected to take place in Las Vegas, Miami, and possibly overseas. But according to Local Motors co-founder and chief executive John Rogers, the technology is already where it needs to be. The biggest obstacle standing in their way is regulations. The federal government is still working toward figuring out the legalities of driverless vehicles, so for now, Olli is only allowed on a limited number of public roads. Until the rules of the (driverless) road are outlined in more detail, Local Motors is primarily marketing the bus to airports and college campuses.

Local Motors

[h/t Phys.org]

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
Low on Gas? You Can Now Get It Delivered to You
iStock
iStock

If you live in a major city, there’s virtually nothing you can’t get delivered straight to your house. Forget groceries and takeout; you don’t even have to get yourself to the gas station anymore. As Lifehacker reports, there’s a service that will fill up your tank for you while your car is parked in your driveway.

Yoshi, an app-based service that brings car care to you, is currently available in more than 10 different cities across the U.S. It not only sells fuel-ups on demand, but also offers oil changes, car washes, repairs, tire checks, and other basics of car maintenance.

To fuel up, you plug in your car’s location on the Yoshi app and set up a delivery. Then, all you need to do is make sure that your car is in the right place and the door to the gas tank is open, and Yoshi will swoop in and fill ‘er up.

Yoshi sells its gas based on AAA price averages in your area, so the service isn’t as pricey as you might think, though you definitely do have to pay for the convenience. If you’re just looking to occasionally buy gas, Yoshi charges a $7 delivery fee. If you plan to use the service regularly, membership costs $20 a month and includes free fuel delivery every week.

The service is certainly a luxury, but if it’s difficult for you to get to a gas station regularly, that $7 delivery fee could be the difference between a smooth ride and running out of gas.

[h/t Lifehacker]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
Why You Should Never Leave Bottles of Water in Your Hot Car
iStock
iStock

Leaving water bottles in your car during summer is a bad idea—and not just because chemicals from the plastic can leach into your water when it gets hot.

A plastic bottle of water can set your car seat on fire if sunlight hits it at just the right angle, according to House Beautiful. If you don't believe that, just ask Dioni Amuchastegui, a battery technician with the Idaho Power Company.

Amuchastegui was sitting in his truck during his lunch break when he saw some smoke out of the corner of his eye. He looked over “and noticed light was being refracted through a water bottle and was starting to catch the seat on fire,” Amuchastegui said in a Facebook video. He recorded the clip to warn others about the dangers of leaving plastic water bottles in hot cars.

He tested it again, and a thermometer held up to the bottle registered a temperature of 213°F. The Midwest City Fire Department in Oklahoma conducted its own test and concluded that the dangers are very real.

"Vinyl generally starts to burn at 455 degrees," David Richardson, of the fire department, tells CBS News. "It wouldn't take very long to start a fire if conditions were right—depends on how focused that beam of light is."

Many people already avoid drinking from bottles left in cars—especially in the winter—due to a widely held belief that freezing or reusing plastic bottles can cause carcinogenic compounds to be released into the water. As Snopes reports, some of these claims are merely urban legends, but there may be some truth to the claim that heat can cause harmful phthalates (environmental contaminants) to leach into the water. The fact-checking agency rated this claim "undetermined."

Regardless, the potential for kindling a fire should provide some incentive to clean out your car and remove any bottles that were tossed haphazardly into the backseat.

[h/t House Beautiful]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios