Collaborative Military Vehicle Design

I wanted to introduce you to a colleague of mine, Ben Beckman.  Ben joined us in 2010, bringing a fresh look at evolutionary systems and creating complex heterogeneous systems of machines.  He is part of a team working on collaborative systems and is doing some very exciting work in that area, which is the focus of a New York Times article.  I’ll let him tell you:

When I came to GE last year I didn’t realize the number and scale of opportunities I would have, both internal to GE and external.  One external opportunity is the DARPA contract that we were awarded.  To get the contract a small team here at the research center collaborated with a professor at MIT to put together a proposal in support of DARPA’s upcoming Fast, Adaptable, Next Generation Vehicle Challenges.  During these challenges, DARPA asks the global community to collaborate and design a military vehicle.  You think this idea is outrageous? I did too, at first– but there is some precedent, see picture below.  Furthermore, DARPA has constructed a portfolio of projects to aid the process.

Time will be the true measure of the vehicle designed, but the idea that a college student, retired veteran, and many others will be allowed and incentivized to contribute to the design of a military vehicle is, I think, astounding!