Darpa push for crowdsourced manufacturing
The way things get developed and built for the military is notoriously expensive and time consuming. The wait for a new vehicle or weapon can easily be 10 or 20 years and squillions of dollars*. Now, the Defense Department and Darpa, its experimental wing in charge of making mind-blowing and often disturbing new technologies, are beginning to push the idea of using more of a crowdsourced model.
G.E.’s research arm announced its collaboration with M.I.T. on Thursday. Earlier in the week, researchers from the company, M.I.T. and the Pentagon agency, Darpa, discussed the project and its potential significance for the military and beyond.
The near-term target, they said, is to collaborate on a design for an amphibious vehicle for the Marines. The first contest, with a $1 million prize, is planned for early next year. It involves mobility and drive-train subsystems for the vehicle. Next, about six months later, will be the design for the chassis and other subsystems, a contest that will carry another $1 million prize.
Other contests will soon follow. Crowdsourcing and these sorts of prize-driven approaches are nothing new, of course, but using them in military manufacturing is a new thing.
* approximate dollar figure.
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