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3/7/2011
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DARPA Crowdsources Combat Vehicle Design

The defense research agency has opened public voting on its XC2V challenge to design a next-generation combat vehicle.




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The Department of Defense's research arm is crowdsourcing its challenge to design a next-generation combat support vehicle.

More than 100 participants have submitted designs for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA'S) eXperimental Crowd-derived Combat-support Vehicle (XC2V) Design Challenge, which it opened for submissions Feb.3.

The idea behind the challenge is to gather innovative ideas for a new combat vehicle body design that could perform two different military missions -- combat reconnaissance and combat delivery and evacuation.

Some of the features included in designs submitted include a removable door that soldiers can use as a defense during fighting if removed from the vehicle, and a modular external vehicle frame that allows for storage and other configurations, according to DARPA.

The agency has opened up voting for the winning design to the public on the Web. The agency also is using social media to promote the contest on its Facebook page.

In addition to public voting, DARPA also will score each design for overall quality and for how it satisfies competition requirements. The agency will award cash prizes of up to $10,000 to the top three winners, and will build the winning design into a full-functioning concept vehicle early this summer, it said. DARPA will unveil contest winners on March 15.

Crowdsourcing is becoming a popular way for government agencies to garner ideas from the public about a range of topics because it allows them to reach a critical mass of people cheaply and efficiently.

Agencies increasingly are using challenges to enlist the public's help on new ideas for using technology to help the federal government work better. The administration even launched the Challenge.gov Web site last fall to formalize how it works with the public on new ideas through challenges.

Challenges are especially popular with agencies like DARPA and NASA, which are two of the most forward-thinking agencies when it comes to technology. However, myriad agencies as diverse as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency are using Challenge.gov to tap the public as a large resource pool for new ideas.

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