Local Motors and Mouser Electronics recently launched the Essence of Autonomy Challenge, which dares participants to dream up the wildest (but most useful) features to include in Local Motors next 3D-printed self-driving car. The winner, just announced, is the FLY-MODE, an incredible design that marries a transforming cockpit and drone launching technology with a car that needs no steering wheel. Grant Imahara lent his expert nerdery to the challenge, and will help the winner develop and create a working prototype vehicle.
The contest was based on the Strati, a 3D-printed car produced by Local Motors that vaguely resembles a dune buggy. The competition challenged engineers to create new electronics features that would be suitable for a self-driving version of the 3D-printed vehicle. (In the video above, you can watch Imahara ride shotgun with Local Motors General Manager David Woessner in the Swim, another 3D-printed vehicle and the first model the car company aims to put through highway certification.)
The winning design, FLY-MODE, has an appeal that is easy to understand. One of the most exciting aspects of a self-driving car is the possibility for activities that people can engage in while they’re being transported from Point A to Point B, since staring at the road will no longer be necessary. The FLY-MODE has a video screen, internet connectivity, and the ability to connect with an actual flying drone and view live drone footage during the ride, giving you the feeling they are flying instead of riding in a car.
The contest winner scored a trip to the Local Motors microfactory in Phoenix, Arizona and will be invited to participate in the final build process and production video with Local Motors and Imahara. We can’t wait to see that!
So, let’s run that back a bit: my favorite Mythbuster (sorry, Adam and Jamie), self-driving cars, 3D printing, crowdsourced engineering, and drone technology. Yep, sounds like a good time to me.
Images via Local Motors