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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) last week awarded a $9.8 million contract to Ricardo, a Michigan-based engineering consultancy, to assist with its Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation Ground Vehicle (FANG) program.
DARPA plans to host three FANG design challenges, which will utilize the (not yet live) vehicleforge.mil site as a venue for design teams to collaborate and share files. The first and second competitions — the mobility/drive train challenge and the chassis/integrated survivability challenge — will take place next year and last three months each. DARPA will award between $500,000 to $1 million to the winning teams. The final competition, the total platform challenge, will last six months in 2014. Ricardo will subsequently compile the best designs into a functional, completed vehicle, which is expected to arrive by FY 2015.
DARPA is no stranger to open innovation: last year, open source automobile company Local Motors facilitated DARPA’s Experimental Crowd-derived Combat-support Vehicle (XC2V) Design Challenge. Local Motors’ crowd completed a prototype within the 14-week deadline — more than five times faster than a traditional build process.
The agency also hosted the DARPA Grand Challenge, an autonomous automobile design competition, in 2004, 2005, and 2007. In October 2012, the organization will launch the DARPA Robotics Challenge, which aims to spur development of “ground robots capable of executing complex tasks in dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environments.”