By  Kathy Webster, AMT Media Communications Manager

Crowd sourcing has been found invaluable in bringing about design and technology innovations that otherwise might never have come to reality. Why be limited to just a few ideas when you could have thousands? That is one of the underlying principles for Local Motors, the disruptive car manufacturer that brought the live Rally Fighter and the 3D printed Strati builds to IMTS in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

Recognizing the need to bring their collaborative spirit to the nation’s capital, last month Local Motors celebrated the grand opening of its new microfactory at National Harbor, Md., just a few miles from Washington, D.C.

AMT President Doug Woods, Vice President - Exhibitions & Business Development Peter Eelman, and Director - Exhibitions Strategy & Communications Bonnie Gurney were on hand to celebrate the opening of a vehicle showroom and working R&D lab open to the public. The location underscores Local Motors’ commitment to building and expanding their community, and also to influencing opinions and regulations that affect transportation. 

Local Motors’ new microfactory “puts the emphasis on demonstration and learning. The labs at this facility will be a destination for education and engagement for the greater D.C. area,” said Local Motors Founder Jay Rogers. “Visitors will be able to see our engineers work with a large-scale 3D printer on vehicles we have in development. Placing this facility in the destination community of National Harbor, with all its attractions and amenities, creates a perfect learning laboratory for many of the vehicle concepts we intend to build.” 

“Jay and his team continue to be at the leading edge of providing market and consumer solutions that leverage the best of digital marketing and manufacturing technologies,” said AMT President Doug Woods. “The Local Motors center at National Harbor is a combination high-tech manufacturing center, hip retail space, cool design center and a kid’s creative play area. LM has been incredibly successful in changing how people look at established products and using its community to rapidly bring new innovations to market.”

At the opening, Local Motors debuted its electric self-driving vehicle, Olli, born out of the company’s community challenge to develop an intelligent vehicle for use in urban areas. The result is a self-driving shuttle that allows riders to set pickup and destination locations through an app and acts as an “on-demand” version of public transportation. “Olli’s technology is ideal for urban environments or places like National Harbor where you have many places to connect, such as from convention centers to hotels,” said Local Motors Chief Financial Officer Jean Paul Capin.

IMTS attendees will get a chance to see Olli in action on a specially designed test track at McCormick Place. Could it be the future of public transportation in Chicago – and beyond?

“Olli is sleek, comfortable and super high-tech. With all the excitement generated by the Rally Fighter and the Strati at previous editions of IMTS, it’s exciting for Olli to join the Local Motors fleet,” said Eelman. “Think of the future. Olli may take you from your downtown hotel to McCormick Place in 2018!”