Earlier this year, DARPA revealed it was embracing the crowdsourcing model to develop a new amphibious infantry vehicle known as the FANG (Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation Ground Vehicle). Now designers and engineers with expertise in drivetrain and mobility systems who wouldn’t mind an extra US$1 million lining their pockets can express their interest with DARPA now opening registrations for the first of three planned challenges that will kick off in January 2013.
Feeling that the current approaches to heavy military vehicle development are proving too slow, DARPA has opened up the development of FANG to the wider community with the aim of fostering an open source development collaboration environment that it hopes will speed the development timetable for a complex defense system by a factor of five. To this end, the FANG design challenges will also test DARPA’s META design tools and its VehicleFORGE collaboration environment.
“FANG is applying a radical approach to the design and manufacture of a military ground vehicle while seeking to engage innovators outside of the traditional defense industry,” said Army Lt. Col Nathan Wiedenman, program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. “By tapping fresh ideas and innovation, we are striving to fundamentally alter the way systems are designed, built and verified to significantly improve DoD’s capacity to handle complexity, something that has rapidly outpaced DoD’s existing 1960s-era approaches to managing it.”
The FANG vehicle must conform to the requirements of the Marine Corp’s Amphibious Combat Vehicle (AVC), with the three challenges focusing on increasingly complex FANG vehicle subsystems. The FANG Mobility/Drivetrain Challenge is to be followed by a second challenge set to commence in late 2013 that will focus on chassis and structural subsystems. The third and final challenge due to commence in 2014 aims to produce a full vehicle design.
The winner of the FANG Mobility/Drivetrain Challenge will have their design built in the iFAB (Instant Foundry Adaptive through Bits) Foundry, while the full vehicle design produced by the winning team of the third and final challenge is set to be tested by the Marine Corps alongside ACV prototypes in operational testing.
Interested parties can register for the first of DARPA’s FANG challenges here.