GE (NYSE: GE), with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA), is embarking on a program “vehicleforge.mil” to revolutionize modern-day design and manufacturing. The goal of the program is to develop a crowdsourcing platform that would enable a global community of experts to design and rapidly manufacture complex systems such as military vehicles, aviation systems and advanced medical devices. These “cyber-physical systems” can take decades to develop. The primary goal of this program is to dramatically reduce that timeline.
GE and MIT are working to build and demonstrate a crowdsourcing platform to support DARPA’s ongoing Adaptive Vehicle Make (AVM) portfolio. Through this platform, DARPA is looking to attract breakthrough ideas and concepts that could revolutionize the design and manufacture of military vehicles and other complex defense systems.
The new crowdsourcing platform is a key part of GE’s efforts to build the Industrial Internet. It will connect data, design tools and simulations in a collaborative environment to accelerate the design of highly complex industrial systems.
Joseph Salvo, manager of the Business Integration Technologies Lab at GE Global Research, said, “The development of new collaborative software architectures is changing the manufacturing paradigm to a more dynamic and distributed model. New crowdsourcing platforms will enable parties with specialized knowledge to securely interact with a global community of experts on the Industrial Internet, resulting in the creation of better, more robust product designs in a much shorter period of time.”
GE recently announced an aggressive expansion of its software programs to harness big data and take industrial product development to the next level. The company has opened a global software headquarters in San Ramon, California, which will employ 400 new software professionals to support these efforts across GE’s business portfolio.
The Vehicleforge.mil CEED Platform
Scientists and engineers from GE Global Research and MIT will develop a “crowd-driven ecosystem for evolutionary design”—CEED for the vehicleforge.mil program. This ecosystem will create an open, virtual collaborative environment where experts and others can team up on projects and freely share, reuse, remix or build on design sources shared by others. These designs can then continue to evolve through a series of iterative design loops that can be tested and vetted with the crowd.
Qing Cao, principal investigator from GE Global Research said, “Developers from different spaces will be able to form design communities and create a common project space. This space will allow them to manage processes as a team and track changes and updates on their project. Furthermore, the CEED platform will provide a marketplace where contributors can choose to expose their ideas to the public either as open source or as IP protected services.”
David Wallace, the Co-PI and MIT mechanical engineering professor said, “The CEED service marketplace is based on the MIT DOME (distributed object-based modeling environment) concept. DOME is an Internet-based computing infrastructure to empower users to publish their geometric design, CAE, manufacturing, or marketing capabilities as live services that are operable over the Internet. The design teams can rapidly create integrated design models using these services in a spontaneous, ad-hoc manner, allowing them to focus on developing and analyzing design scenarios rather than being constrained by a rigidly defined integrated design environment, which we think is critical to user-driven design synthesis in the crowd sourcing context.”
The exposed design models, or models available for review in this open community, will experience market pressures that ultimately allow for the best designs to emerge. This will mirror how designs get vetted in the open market today, only faster.
The CEED platform will embed social media connections to maximize crowd engagement. When completed, the software developed under the contract will be open-sourced and used to support portions of vehicleforge.mil.
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