Mobility firms sign $7 million deal to develop electric autonomous vehicles

Mobility companies Local Motors and Protean Electric have expanded their partnership to help accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.

Autonomous vehicle firm Local Motors and Protean Electric, a motor technology company, have signed a three-year deal worth $7.3 million.

The deal would see Protean Electric will thousands of its ProteanDrive in-wheel motors (IWMs) to power Local Motors’ Olli 2.0 electric autonomous shuttles.

The Olli autonomous shuttles are currently used on campuses and city streets in the Americas, Europe and Asia and are powered by ProteanDrive’s in-wheel motors, which it says are lighter, smoother, and more energy-efficient than alternative solutions such as e-axles. According to the firm, the in-wheel motors also allow Local Motors to maximise passenger space, vehicle range and platform reliability.

Vikrant Aggarwal, president of Local Motors, said: “Now in live deployments around the world, Olli is truly changing the way that we look at transportation, providing a smart, safe, sustainable option for getting around.

“One of the keys in driving broad-scale adoption of electric autonomous vehicles is delivering an exceptional passenger experience, and the ProteanDrive in-wheel motors play a huge role in that experience, providing a smooth, quiet, and reliable ride while allowing us to optimise vehicle design to better address real-world use cases.”

Andrew Whitehead, CEO of Protean Electric, added: “We are thrilled to be building on our alliance with Local Motors, enabling them to rapidly scale deployments of Olli 2.0.

“This new deal not only reinforces Local Motors’ commitment to the ProteanDrive IWM solution but offers important industry validation that the technology is mature, reliable, scalable, and delivers the cost and performance needed to address the massive acceleration in electric vehicle adoption.”