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DARPA announces winner in FANG challenge

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April 24, 2013

Artist's concept of the Ground Systems FANG vehicle

Artist's concept of the Ground Systems FANG vehicle

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced on Monday the winner of the first challenges in its competition to design the Fast Adaptable Next-Generation Ground Vehicle (FANG). The US$1 million prize went to “Ground Systems” – a three-person group with members in Ohio, Texas and California. The first of three challenges, the purpose of the competition is to bring crowdsourcing to the problem of creating armored vehicles, with the hope of reducing the design costs by a factor of five.

The challenge began on January 14, and included over 200 teams made up of 1,000 participants. What is remarkable about this is the fact that the participants didn’t even have to know one another at the start of the challenge, and many met during their collaboration. The participants used a suite of META design tools working with the VehicleFORGE collaboration platform developed by Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. This platform gave the participants access to a common library of virtual tools and models for potentially thousands of armored vehicle drivetrains.

Of course, the participants weren’t simply told to build a battle tank and sent on their way. The goal of the competition is to build a fully operational vehicle that fits the requirements of the Marine Corp’s Amphibious Combat Vehicle (AVC). Specifically, this first challenge involved creating the drivetrain. The participant groups were given feedback on their design which they could then resubmit, and Group Systems was chosen the winner based on receiving the highest final score against the requirements for system performance and manufacturability.

The next step will be to submit Group Three’s drivetrain design to the DARPA Instant Foundry Adaptive through Bits (iFAB) program team for further analysis. This will determine how suitable it is for manufacturing, foundry configuration and other parts of the building process before going on for test and evaluation by lead FANG performer, Ricardo Inc. of Van Buren Township, Michigan. Two more challenges will deal with other parts of the vehicle, with the final goal being a fully operational machine for Pentagon evaluation rather than a prototype.

“I'm very pleased with the quality of the submissions we received during the challenge, and we have learned a great deal throughout the process,” said Army Lt. Col. Nathan Wiedenman, DARPA program manager. “The first FANG Challenge has been a great experiment, and the submission of many viable, innovative designs has validated the Adaptive Vehicle Make (AVM) design tools and provided invaluable feedback to continue their development.”

The video below explains the FANG competition

Source: DARPA

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
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9 Comments

so DARPA scientists paid graphic designers to draw up pretty pictures of theoretical drive trains ... is it any wonder we end up with $700 hammers ...

seems to me they should have asked engineers who support our troops in Iraq and Afghan about the real world requirements for armored vehicles ...

this method appears to start with a solution instead of starting with the problem ...

Jeffrey J Carlson
25th April, 2013 @ 04:48 am PDT

So after all, what is the exact name of the winner? Ground Systems, or Group Systems or Group Three, I get confuse with that!

bk9sw
25th April, 2013 @ 10:10 am PDT

I notice, Jeff, that you carefully used the term... appears, to describe your indignance with the process.

Nice. So, how about you tell us in this indignant style of yours, how we short-circuit the existing design paradigms that DO produce $700 hammers? Using the same fools who spent all of our money for the last 75 years sure isn't working, now, is it?

I say it's high time for a fresh take with unencumbered minds and a clean sheet of paper. This looks like a good start with that process.

Chris Ostlind
25th April, 2013 @ 10:17 am PDT

Then Jeff, how would you reduce the cost of multi-million dollar armored vehicles? The other options is to have team draw up requirements and let the major defense contractors bid it out. Not a perfect solution either.

Actually I think this is smart. I'd like a little more exposure, but I have some tanker buddies that I'd told about this.

VoiceofReason
25th April, 2013 @ 10:21 am PDT

Dakoroman, Sydney: the real solution for the Western type countries/ USA, Europe, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc, is to CHANGE the Intellectual Property Laws, allowing the individual inventors real input to the economy, not just via big corporations/ inflexible bureaucracy.

The West was build on innovation/ creativity/ manufacturing.

Dakoroman, Sydney
25th April, 2013 @ 03:02 pm PDT

The 700 dollar hammers do not generate sparks they were purchased for use in munition bunkers specifically those containing rockets armed with nerve gas that stray sparks could start. The army had been trying to dispose of the rockets for years but the greens kept blocking with stupid lawsuits and because of the delay the bunkers, and storage racks needed maintenance and one of the tools required was a hammer that could not accidentally fire off a rocket that would result in released nerve gas including rockets carrying their payload dozens of miles away.

Slowburn
25th April, 2013 @ 05:09 pm PDT

i would like to see this method applied on a larger scale to develop nano-robots that could be sent to the asteroids to:

1. explore for metal bearing asteroids.

2. populate the asteroid (reproduce).

3. use available minerals and other useless materials to build communications and transportation for the asteroid to go where directed.

4. concentrate the metals (refine).

5. self reproduce to explore other asteroids.

6. accept self destruct signals.

7. accept new programming updates.

sending human occupied space ships is too expensive off Earth. We need small, light robots instead.

notarichman
26th April, 2013 @ 08:29 am PDT

Yes, but does it float?

Mirmillion
26th April, 2013 @ 10:20 am PDT

Not sure whether this approach will be successful in the end, but you have to take your hats off to them for trying something different in the design/development of A-Veh.

One of the reasons for expensive Defence equipment is that the market for it (even in the US) is not actually that big. Think of the cost to develop the M1 Arbrams replacement, knowing you could only sell a few thousand worldwide. Those R&D costs have to be recouped over a small fleet. Contrast that to a car manufacturer - much simpler design and potentially hundreds of thousands of sales. It's a no brainer why $700 hammers are a result - it's a niche market and has to be viable otherwise no one would be in the business. I'm with you on this one @Slowburn.

@Jeffrey J Carlson: one must always prepare for "a" war, not "the" war. Vehicles to fight a similarly equipped enemy have to be in the arsenal. And that's coming from someone currently in Afghanistan.

Doerpfeld
11th June, 2013 @ 12:41 am PDT
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