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Can Open Source Techniques Be Used to Design a Car? RRS feed

  • Question

  • The majority of concept cars never make it to production, but that may not be the case for a revolutionary prototype car that is being designed entirely online using open source methods. Tens of thousands have signed up to participate in designing the OScar, though most of the design is done by a core team of a few dozen, under the direction of Markus Merz. For the past six years Merz has directed the development of the OScar allowing all decisions to be made democratically by anyone who wants to participate, which includes car designers, programmers, companies, universities, and individuals. The OScar is designed to be made from a minimum number of mechanical parts and perform somewhere between the original Volkswagen Beetle and a Mark 1 Golf, with a top speed of 90 miles per hour. In the OScar, the drivetrain, body, engine, power, safety, and information systems were designed independently and are fully interchangeable, just like a computer, so a manufacturer could easily swap parts, easily changing a passenger car to a pick-up truck. The fundamental rule of the project is that the design should be freely available to every member of the community, creating the opportunity for small manufactures to produce a car without paying a license to produce a design. Other obstacles, such as legal conflicts and manufacturing and distribution costs, prevent the OScar from being produced and adapted as successfully as open source software programs have been, but creating an open source design for something like a car places the opportunity for innovation and invention, which have recently belonged primarily to corporations, back in the hands of the individual. Merz admits that OScar is only a hobby, but the car itself is the result of hobbyists' life-long enthusiasm.
    Wednesday, April 18, 2007 7:35 AM