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Local Motors Plans To Launch Highway-Ready 3D-Printed Cars in 2016

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14. July 2015

The design for the first road-ready 3D-printed car.

 

The little 3D-printed car that could—the Strati—has generated quite the response. Designed by Local Motors (Chandler, Ariz.), the 3D-printed car made its debut at the IMTS 2014. The company printed the car’s chassis and body all in one piece.

 

I’ve seen the Strati in person several times and it’s a really cool feat of technology. And while many people were also impressed by the Strati, one of the biggest questions about it was—will we ever have 3D-printed cars on the road?

 

Well, Local Motors says yes and soon. The company recently unveiled the designs that will serve as inspiration for the world’s first production line of 3D-printed cars. The winning design of Project Redacted is Reload Redacted - Swim/Sport by Kevin Lo whose entry showcases the usage of Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM), including the ability to create a completely customizable vehicle. Its design boasts a flexible foundation that can support many different styles and technology options.

 

Local Motors is the first company to utilize DDM in vehicle production, with the goal of decreasing the amount of tooling while increasing speed to market for highway-ready vehicles, the company said in a news release.

 

“At Local Motors, we are hell-bent on revolutionizing manufacturing,” said John B. Rogers, Jr., CEO and co-founder of Local Motors. “Car manufacturers have been stamping parts the same way for more than 100 years. We now have the technology to make the process and products better and faster by linking the online to the offline through DDM. This process will create better and safer products, and we are doing exactly that.”

 

Local Motors launched Project Redacted to challenge the co-creation community to imagine and design the next generation of 3D-printed cars. The winning entry will act as the foundation for the world’s first, and yet-to-be-named, road-ready 3D-printed vehicles. Local Motors plans to design, build and sell a Low Speed Electric Vehicle (LSEV) iteration, with a goal for it to debut in Q1 2016, as well as a fully homologated highway-ready version later that year. NBC News reported the first model will be priced between $18,000 and $30,000.

The winning entry was chosen after a voting process that tapped the Local Motors community, as well as a professional judging panel, including former Tonight Show host and car enthusiast Jay Leno, SEMA Vice President of Vehicle Technology John Waraniak and Sabic Senior Manager Geert Jan Schellekens.

 

In addition to that announcement, Local Motors also unveiled a fleet of vehicles it has named ‘LOCO University Vehicles.’ LOCO, short for Local Motors Co-Created University Vehicles, is one of the first steps in the company’s effort to "change the automotive industry forever" by partnering with some of the nation’s top universities and laboratories. The university partnerships will amplify 3D printing and other technologies.

 

The first three universities to participate in the program are the University of Michigan (U of M), Arizona State University (ASU) and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV).

 

Today U of M takes delivery of a LOCO, with its research efforts focusing on the development of autonomous (self-driving) technology. U of M plans to use the LOCO to develop a fleet of autonomous vehicles that will transport students around the University’s North Campus, while also serving as the nation’s first test bed for on-demand autonomous.

 

“Think Uber, but with low-speed, autonomous cars,” said Ed Olson, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sScience at University of Michigan who leads the project. “The goal of this program is for us to begin to understanding the challenges of a transportation-on-demand system built around autonomous cars.”

 

The UNLV LOCO will also focus on autonomous vehicle technology. The partnership with Arizona State University will conduct and gather groundbreaking research on advanced materials. The goal with all the schools is to deliver the latest technology in additive manufacturing to the Local Motors community, who will be hard at work in the coming months co-creating on and bringing Reload Redacted to roads across America.

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