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DARPA is continuing its crusade to change the way we make things, selecting Vanderbilt University to set up the vehicleforge.mil website to enable software-style "open source" development of military systems, beginning with a ground combat vehicle.Vehicleforge is the centerpiece of DARPA's Adaptive Vehicle Make initiative to revolutionize manufacturing. This is modeled on the IT industry, where software development is "crowd sourced" and microchips are designed using high-level model libraries and fabricated by sending the design data to automated factories equipped to make any type of chip at the flip of a digit.GCV (Concept: DARPA)In DARPA's vision, its META program will provide the high-level "metalanguage" and component model library for development and verification of the design. Vehicleforge will provide the online infrastructure for collaborative development. And iFAB will provide the reconfigurable "build-to-print" facility to manufacture different versions of the ground-vehicle family.All three are to be used to design and built FANG — the Fast, Adaptive, Next-Generation Ground Combat Vehicle — with the goal of producing a better vehicle, faster and cheaper than conventional development and production methods. FANG is to be developed through open-source chassis/drivetrain and body/survivability challenges, similar to the one that produced DARPA's XC2V "concept" scout car.XC2V (Photo: Local Motors)Vanderbilt has been awarded a $4.3 million contract to develop and operate vehicleforge.mil. This covers the initial 12-month phase to develop the open-source environment, and is to be followed by a 36-month operating and support phase. A companion program, TrustForge, to develop a credentialing and verification scheme to limit access to vehicleforge.mil to trusted participants, has been awarded to the University of Pennsylvania.DARPA previously announced plans to award Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) a contract to supply drivetrain cooling-system models to be used in exercising the META design tools now under development. These detailed models result from CMU's prior involvement in DARPA's Crusher unmanned ground combat vehicle program.Plans call for the META component-model and iFAB fabrication-process libraries to be populated during fiscal 2012. Vehicleforge.mil will become operational in 2012 and the iFAB foundry by 2013. The FANG design challenges will be run in fiscal 2013, with a prototype of the infantry fighting vehicle version planned to be built in fiscal 2014.
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