Innovation That Matters

Open source eco-car, designed by wiki

Mobility & Transport

Proponents of free and open source software are already familiar with the benefits of a collaborative, sharing approach to design, and now the automotive world is getting a taste of its own thanks to a Netherlands-based effort known as c,mm,n. Sustainable mobility is at the heart of the motivation behind c,mm,n (reportedly pronounced “common”), an initiative from Stichting Natuur en Milieu (Dutch Society for Nature and Environment) along with the technical universities of Delft, Twente and Eindhoven. Aiming to provide a model for cars in the year 2020, the first collaboratively designed prototype car was debuted recently at Amsterdam’s AutoRAI 2009 car show. Boasting zero emissions, the hydrogen-powered vehicle features a lightweight (and therefore fuel-saving) thermoplastic exterior and an interior including soy-based memory foam and other recyclable materials. What its developers call a “river display,” meanwhile, is said to function like an iPhone with access to a variety of information including route-planning, carpooling and efficiency-maximizing systems. The vehicle is also optimised to minimize depreciation and repairs. Materials in the body, for example, last only three years; after that, the car is designed to be taken back to the factory and rebuilt. Most paradigm-busting of all, however, is that the car’s blueprints are publicly available under an open source license, so its design can be used and modified by others as long as any derived works are shared with the public as well. More than 800 people are currently involved in c,mm,n through the site’s “c, mm, nity” and developer’s wiki. A video on YouTube (text in Dutch) provides a computer simulation of the c,mm,n in action. Given Generation C(ontent)’s penchant for contributing content and having a say in matters large and small, it’s no surprise open source software is gaining ground. Will the same concept have “wheels” in the automotive world? Only time will tell. In the meantime, one to watch—and get involved in! (Related: Converting standard Corollas into electric carsOpen source approach to textbook publishing.) Spotted by: Paul Coppes



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