DARPA’s factory of the future looks like open source development
DARPA is looking to solve the problem of runaway defense systems projects by reinventing how complex systems are developed and manufactured. They aim to do this by borrowing from the playbooks of integrated circuit developers and open-source software projects. And in the process, the agency’s Adaptive Vehicle Make project may reinvent manufacturing itself, and seed the workforce with a new generation of engineers who can “compile” innovations into new inventions without having to be tied to a manufacturing plant.
“The direction we’ve been going in defense acquisition can’t last,” DARPA AVM deputy program manager and Army Lt. Col. Nathan Wiedenman said in a press briefing attended by Ars Technica. “The systems we build are more complex, but the way we do it hasn’t changed much in 50 years.” He pointed out that the Army alone had spent $22 billion over the last 10 years on programs that got cancelled. He said that DOD wasn’t far off from a tongue-in-cheek statement made by former Lockheed Martin president Norman Augustine—one of “Augustine’s Laws”—that by 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase one aircraft.