First crowd-sourced combat vehicle arrives

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The experimental Crowd-derived Combat Support Vehicle (XC2V), a proof of principle project that marks the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's initial foray into crowd-sourced development, is now complete.

XC2V is the first project to be executed in the agency's Adaptive Vehicle Make (AVM) portfolio. "AVM seeks to compress development timelines five fold to accelerate product development, and lower the barrier to participation in innovation and manufacturing," said Paul Eremenko, DARPA program manager, in a statement.

According to a June 24 White House blog post, the next-generation combat support vehicle was designed and built as part of a competition in which designers solicited feedback in order to modularly improve their submissions. The project demonstrated that it is "possible to design, manufacture and test a new vehicle in about one-fifth the usual time and with significant cost savings," said the blog post.

The DARPA-led competition was executed with the help of Chandler, Ariz.-based Local Motors and had a $10,000 prize.

"Local Motors solicited design ideas on their website, chose the best out of 162 that it received, built and brought this new vehicle here ahead of schedule," said President Barack Obama while speaking June 24 at Carnegie Mellon University.

"Instead of having a 10-year lead time to develop a piece of equipment with all kinds of changing specs and a moving target, if we were able to collapse the pace at which that manufacturing takes place, that could save taxpayers billions of dollars.  But it also could get products out to theater faster, which could save lives more quickly," added Obama.

The design challenge launched Feb. 3 and on March 15 DARPA chose a winning design. The vehicle was complete before the fourteen-week deadline. DARPA said it may arrange for another vehicle to be designed and built in a similar way, to further test the method. It also plans to conduct a side-by-side evaluation between crowd-selected and end-user-selected vehicles.

The administration blog post reiterated Obama's request that agencies increase their use of competitions. Since the launch of Challenge.gov last September, there have been nearly 100 competitions from more than 30 agencies, according to the White House.

For more:
- see a time-lapse video of vehicle production
- see the Office of Science and Technology Policy blog post
- see the president's June 24 remarks

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