Crowdsourcing automaker Local Motors will cease operations this Friday, according to employees, TechCrunch reports. The company has not yet officially announced its imminent demise, though its reactions from its workforce have already appeared on LinkedIn.
“As with most adventures, they must come to an end,” Jeff Hollowell, Local Motors VP of information technology, wrote on Thursday. “Local Motors has closed its doors. It has been an exciting, challenging, and educational experience working with Olli and all the team at Local Motors. I was fortunate to work with amazing individuals and help build what others said could not be done! I’ve been able to grow as a leader and learn new skills that I now take to my next path forward. Thanks to all the team members and partners that I was able to work with. The time spent was well worth the effort.”
Local Motors pioneered the idea of crowdsourcing the production of vehicles with 2016's, Olli, a 3D-printed 12-passenger microbus powered by now equally defunct IBM's Watson. It set off a minor arms race among automakers to produce a new class of autonomous EV people movers, however, imparting Level 4 autonomous capabilities has proven exceedingly difficult to date — in part due to technological shortcomings in the current generation of sensor and signal processing systems. Of. course, that hasn't dissuaded companies from trying, their efforts having led to a series of high-profile traffic accidents in recent years such as the Navya that wrecked in the opening hours of CES 2017, the Toyota e-Pallette that ran down a paralympian in August, and the solo-vehicle accident in Whitby, Ontario that critically injured a man last December.
Local Motors first made a name for itself with the Rally Fighter kit car before it pivoted to developing the Olli. The company had planned to launch a pilot program for the second iteration of its autonomous shuttle, the Olli 2.0, in Toronto last spring, however those plans were subsequently pushed back to February, 2022, and, with Thursday's revelation, will now likely never take place.