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Open-sourcing an Aircraft? DARPA’s Big New Idea

Photo: dmu.edu

Open-source software has been the buzzword in software innovation ever since a Finnish college student named Linus began fiddling with the UNIX operating system.

Now, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has announced plans to take open-source methods from the cyber world and use them to develop actual defense vehicles.

DARPA’s new portfolio of programs aims to “democratize the design process for complex cyber-electro-mechanical systems such as defense and aerospace vehicles,” according to an agency announcement.

DARPA is seeking proposals to develop vehicleforge.mil, “an open source hosting site for the collaborative development of these systems.”

The biggest challenge of using open-source tenets in the “physical world,” will likely be developing a “general representational language,” able to fully describe the vehicle systems, FierceGovernmentIT reports.

The website also reports earlier this year, DARPA awarded contracts and solicited proposals to develop innovative new solutions to the design of defense vehicles. At that time, DARPA sought “revolutionary advances,” not just “evolutionary improvements to the existing practice of vehicle systems development.

Along with the challenges facing the current open-source plan come potential security concerns, as well. They include how to develop crowd-sourced material so that developers wouldn’t even need to be U.S. citizens or hold security clearances, FierceGovernmentIT reports.

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