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Author Topic: Build a Swimming Tank for Darpa and Make a Million Dollars  (Read 1195 times)


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« on: 3 October 2012, 10:00:08 »

The Pentagon’s blue-sky researchers are gambling that you can build a swimming tank for the Marines in a fraction of the time it takes the military’s lumbering acquisitions process. All you need are the relevant data and a set of web-based collaborative tools. And its gamble will pay you a million dollars if you’re part of the winning design team.

Welcome to the FANG Challenge, the latest of Darpa’s various design challenges that leverage the distributed intelligence of the crowd. (They don’t want to call it “crowdsourcing,” but more on that in a second.) FANG stands for Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation Ground Vehicle. In this case, Darpa wants to build an amphibious infantry vehicle to the specifications of the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle, designed to carry Marines from ship to shore under fire. Only Darpa thinks you can design something that’s more innovative than a traditional military vehicle, in less time, and without the support of mega-defense corporations. To do so, you’ll have to break from the process through which those vehicles get engineered.

Typically, explains Army Lt. Col. Nathan Wiedenman, a Darpa program manager and armor officer, the component systems of military vehicles are engineered individually: The propulsion people work on the propulsion system, the data people work on data management, and so forth. But when you put them all together, you don’t get what you expected, “because all those components and sub-systems interact in ways we couldn’t anticipate,” Wiedenman told reporters on Tuesday. “Nothing is just a data-management system or a power or thermal system. All the components of a complex system like this have mechanical, power, data, thermal, and electromagnetic behaviors that affect other sub-components around them.” The result is a stop-start process that takes […]

Read more: Build a Swimming Tank for Darpa and Make a Million Dollars

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