Friday, November 11, 2011

Siemens and Local Motors Team Up

It is 8:01am CST.  By now, you have had one minute to digest the press releases from Local Motors and Siemens regarding their cooperation to create a CAD tool suited to the car enthusiast.  I mentioned a bit about it in my last post when I talked about the Open House at Local Motors here in the Phoenix Metro area.  Here are some of the more juicy details.

About Local Motors
Local Motors (LM), under the vision and direction of its CEO and Co-founder Jay Rogers, has the desire to allow the community of car enthusiasts to go a step beyond after market products and do-it-yourself component upgrades to allow them to design their own niche vehicle.  Niche vehicle is the key phrase.  A niche vehicle, to paraphrase Jay, is something that a certain certain group of people want or need in a specific geographic region.  To make that happen, Jay has a vision that allows the community to collaborate, or in LM and Siemens terms to allow cocreation (because cocreate would just be weird to say), a specific vehicle that fulfills the local niche.  For example, people in Arizona would love a desert race vehicle to take out to the Dunes that is street legal so they don't have to trailer a 20 mpg gallon vehicle behind a 16 mpg vehicle just to have a little off-road fun.  Thus, the Rally Fighter was born.  (Although if it had a 4 wheel drive option that I could take rock crawling with my Jeep buddies -- now there's a vehicle I could invest in!)

In order to take LM to the next step, the community needed a design tool that capable of designing and assembling an automobile - from piece part welded tubes and brackets, to body panels, and windshield wipers.  Yet, the tool had to be simple to use and affordable enough for the DIY or enthusiast gear head.  Not only that, but the tool had to be "universal."  In other words, it had to be able to read whatever file format individuals of the community uploaded to the LM website and to be able to manipulate that geometry.  With a remarkable partnership with Siemens, Solid Edge Design 1 was born.

About Siemens
To be honest, Siemens wasn't the only CAD vendor that LM approached to  help them move to the next level in their vision.  As a matter of fact, LM first tried to work out a partnership with Dassault who helped them with the DOD vehicle.  LM approached as many CAD vendors as it could to propose building a tool suitable for its community.  But, as it turns out, Siemens was the only CAD vendor willing to take the chance on such a new and, I'll say it, revolutionary kind of car company.  Behold, Solid Edge Design 1 was born.

Solid Edge Design 1
What's so special about Solid Edge Design 1?  First of all, it's not NX Design 1 which is what most people would think is needed for automotive design.  Second of all, it is a full-enough featured version of Solid Edge Synchronous Technology so any individual can design an automobile: Synchronous Part and Synchronous Assembly.  Just as important, Solid Edge Design 1 is rented monthly for the cost of a dinner at Applebee's through the LM community website.

Finally, there is a robust CAD package that is priced at a range that makes it available to the masses.  Alibre tried it and did a great job, but this is one step further.  No initial high cost outlay.  No yearly maintenance fee.  This is as about as pay-as-you-go as we have ever seen in the CAD world, made available under EULA for every enthusiast out there at an affordable price.

Conclusion (for now)
These are exciting times we live in.  This, in my opinion, truly is a game changer.  On the one hand, we have the maker market exploding who are all trying to find an affordable geometry creation engine in order to continue to make.  Now they have it.  On the other hand, we have a new kind of car company showing the world that it doesn't take a company "too big to fail" to put together a really sweet ride.  I am excited to be in the middle of all of it.  I can't wait to see how the competition reacts to this news.  I can't wait to see how the market reacts.

There is so much more to talk about regarding the details of the cooperation between Siemens and the vision of Local Motors.  It has to be broken up into many posts and I fully intend to cover my opinion of it as much as possible: the new LM website (it's on so many steroids it may even be illegal by MLB) and the growing community for one; the two steps that actually go into sharing design data online: web-based geometry visualization and Solid Edge Design 1 geometry creation; the vision and growth model of LM; just to name a few.  I'm almost speechless from being overwhelmed with the potential of this cooperation.  See now why I said Jay has a really high "smartness level"? 

I know several other people also reporting on this news so keep your eyes and ears sharp.  I'll provide updates and links as time permits.  In the meantime, strap on your seat belts and enjoy the ride.
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