Friday, April 20, 2007

The world's first open source vehicle

Now, this is a great idea - taking open source principles and making them tangible in the physical market place. In this article - Can open source techniques be used to design a car? - describes how a car called the 'OScar' is being developed by a loose tangle of car designers, engineers and programmers - most working in their spare time:

OScar is taking shape using a single principle as its guiding light: it's an open source car. The open source idea is borrowed from the software industry that makes its code freely available under licence; the Firefox web browser and the Linux operating system being the most famous examples.

In the hard, metallic world of car design this means that instead of protecting OScar designs by use of restrictive patents, as is the norm, the design is effectively open to anyone willing to contribute. And that does mean anyone. Like a much more complicated version of Wikipedia, OScar is being argued over by volunteer car designers, 60% of whom are moonlighting from within the car industry.

Tens of thousands have signed up to the project, but in reality OScar is being driven by a core team of a few dozen, and steered by just one man. Markus Merz has for the past six years been trying to direct the design and development of a prototype car using the anarchic principles of open source. Although he is in the driving seat, decisions are based on a democratic system and everybody - including individual designers, companies, universities, and other organisations - can participate. (You can too, just by signing up at

This project deserves keeping an eye on.


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