Open Source Cars

March 16th, 2012 | Posted by paul in DIY/Maker - (0 Comments)




Wikispeed Roadster

There’s a manufacturing revolution going on that is making it possible to produce most of what we currently buy from the global production system (multi-national companies, like Walmart, and China) locally, within our own communities.  That even includes products as larger and complex as cars.

Wikispeed is making an open source car.

Wikispeed is an online car company with a volunteer team of designers, engineers, and enthusiasts all over the world.  Recently, this team jointly designed a complete car in a stunningly quick three months that:

  • gets high performance,
  • achieves 100 miles per gallon mileage,
  • meets all US safety standards,
  • uses modular construction (so that all parts and subsystems can be easily replaced).

If you want to take on the challenge of building this car in your town, check out their technical videos.

I want to point out that modular construction means that the most difficult repairs could be fixed in less than 10 minutes. No more devastating $2000 mechanic bills.  You simply plop the part out, and put the new one in. This is exactly how airplanes are built – to be very easy and fast to repair. Cars on the other hand are made intentionally difficult to fix in order to maintain the Auto industry/auto mechanic money racket. No more planned obsolesence either. There open-sourced cars can be made to last indefinitely.  Imagine that, one and only car purchase, and should you get bored with it, upgrade it, or swap it out. What this means is a lot less stress on the planet, less materials consumed, and far less energy.

For our purposes, it’s important to understand that this design can be made in a relatively small, local “factory.”  A factory that employs craftspeople you know.  A factory that you can visit.  A factory where it may be possible to participate in the manufacturing process. Here’s a video of one Joe Justice, one of the team leaders, talking about how they did it:


So how it is possible to build an awesome 100mpg street legal and beautiful car in three months?  Scrum:

The Scrum Framework in 30 Seconds

  • product owner creates a prioritized wish list called a product backlog.
  • During sprint planning, the team pulls a small chunk from the top of that wishlist, a sprint backlog, and decides how to implement those pieces.
  • The team has a certain amount of time, a sprint, to complete its work – usually two to four weeks – but meets each day to assess its progress (daily scrum).
  • Along the way, the ScrumMaster keeps the team focused on its goal.
  • At the end of the sprint, the work should be potentially shippable, as in ready to hand to a customer, put on a store shelf, or show to a stakeholder.
  • The sprint ends with a sprint review and retrospective.
  • As the next sprint begins, the team chooses another chunk of the product backlog and begins working again.
For more information see Wikipedia entry on Scrum, and the Scrum Alliance.

Wikispeed has recently inked an agreement with the people over at innovative Open Source Ecology.

Local Motors is also working on their own open-sourced, locally manufactured automobile.

[Source:  Resilient Communities]


HDTV via GNU Radio

February 22nd, 2003 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on HDTV via GNU Radio)

Saw this on Slashdot:

High Definition TV has been successfully captured in its native data stream from an over the air broadcast by a software defined radio that is Free and open source from the GNU Software Defined Radio project.

This is a terrific development. As you may already know GNU Radio is a general purpose radio that is entirely open source. So not only can this device act like any other wireless device, it is not proprietary either. This means that you can capture HDTV signals with an open-source device which is not beholden to special interests and their broadcast flag which will otherwise be rammed down our throats by 2007. This is a classic example of information wanting to be free.