I wrote a few weeks ago about my visit to Edison 2, the producers of the car that won the Automotive X prize for a vehicle that got over 100 miles per gallon. Edison 2 is redesigning the car used for the race to be something more in line with mass production standards for cars. One of the small tasks they need to do to accomplish that is to redesign the entry method. I imagine that the way the door is hinged is fixed, but they need a handle mechanism. Edison 2 is running this competition through Local Motors.
I’ve talked about Local Motors before, in ways that were maybe less than positive, but this situation will give you a chance to see what’s really going on behind the hype. In the end, what Edison 2 needs is a set of brainstorm ideas to evaluate. The main role of Local Motors in this case is just to get people to create ideas that meet a few criteria. Edison 2 has real automotive engineers on staff who will be the ones to make the decisions about what goes in the car. They are not going to just let some internet contest steer it, they have real, qualified people who make the decisions.
It’s a competition, and the winner gets $2500. The winner is judged by “peer review”. In this case, I guess “peer” means anyone who signs up for “The Forge”, Local Motor’s community, is able to vote. If I had to guess, I’d say that the door handle design that makes it onto the newly remodeled Very Light Car will be one designed by Edison 2, possibly influenced by entries to the Local Motors contest.
Why do I squirm around so much when writing about this stuff? “Open Source” and “Crowd Source” are trendy words when applied to design. But in this case, I don’t think they mean anything. The ideas generated by the contest may influence the final design that makes it into the car, but that’s as far as I’d go with it. The final design will be done by professionals.
In a way I’d like to make an entry. I love minimalistic design, which is important for a car where weight is such a factor. The design has to incorporate shape and function. I’ve got a couple ideas, and if I had time to really model something nice, I’d do it. “Unfortunately”, there’s a lot of work in the office right now, so I probably won’t get to it.
Also, just so you know, I heard some preliminary ideas about this contest during my visit to Edison 2. It was about that time that I was considering doing a design project on this blog. I’m still considering the design project, but there was some thought that the two ideas might intersect. But I think we’ll just go forward with the On The Edge project separately.
And we’ll keep up talking about new ST5 features… stay tuned.