April 6, 2012
PENTAGON PUSHES CROWDSOURCED MANUFACTURING:
Designing and building things for the United States military is a notoriously slow-moving and costly endeavor. The time from idea to manufacturing for a new armored personnel carrier or a tank is typically 10 to 20 years. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to change that, and drastically so. It seeks to cut the design-to-production cycle to two to four years. So how are they going to do it? Crowdsourcing and prize contests are crucial ingredients in the speed-up recipe. The crowdsourcing effort will rely on a software initiative, called Vehicleforge.mil, which will be a Web portal for gathering, sharing and testing ideas.
Darpa, a government-sponsored research program, has enlisted scientists from the Georgia Tech Research Institute, Vanderbilt University, University of Pennsylvania, and a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and General Electric. The work is getting under way in earnest now, with the first of three prize challenges scheduled for next year.
I remember when “prize challenges” were just a crazy idea championed by some way-out futurist types.