Sep 3, 2015 | By Alec

Over the past few years, few 3D printing startups in the world have created as much excitement as the Phoenix, AZ-based Local Motors company. Over the last few years, they have been working hard at a seemingly impossible creation: 3D printed cars. And they have gotten increasingly good at it, unveiling their signature Strati car last year. In September 2014; they actually took it for a test drive. But they are now hard at work to take things to the next level; just a few weeks ago, they picked the designs for the actual road worthy versions of the Strati, and now they announced a partnership with the University of Nevada – Las Vegas (UNLV) with the express purpose of creating autonomously driving 3D printed cars.

For those of you who’ve mysteriously missed this story altogether, Local Motors is an innovative high-tech design company that designs, builds and commercially markets unusual vehicles. From bytes-to-bits, they are known for creating local micro manufacturing with large scale global innatives, complete with tons of hardware innovations to make every vehicle more unique than the next. They also work together with universities and various other research partners to further develop 3D printing technology.

However, few previous partnerships have been as ambitious as this R&D collaboration with UNLV’s brand-new Drones and Autonomous Systems Lab (DASL). This is all part of the greater LOCO University Vehicle Program (short for the Local Motors Co-Created program), which is seeking to get top scientists onboard with the advancement of 3D printed vehicle autonomy. ‘The LOCO program provides university students and faculty with the projects, vehicles, and co-creation platform needed to quickly develop the next generation of vehicle technology. Partner universities engage in the LOCO program as a way to attract future students and donors, as well as help facilitate tech transfer into commercial value,’ Local Motors writes on their website. This particular collaboration also involves the University of Michigan and Arizona State.

And their goal? To transform the already impressive Strati into an autonomous vehicle. To do so, Local Motors recently already delivered their 3D printed vehicle to the UNLV, where a team headed by Paul Oh will equip it with autonomous sensory equipment and a driving robot called the DRC-Hubo. 'Local Motors’ vision and realization of microfactories is truly exciting and DASL is thrilled to be an active partner in this vision,’ Oh said on Local Motors’ website. ‘Microfactories combined with cloud-computing, wireless networking and connectivity yield bold innovations for inspiring wonder and empowering creativity.’ Although headquartered in Phoenix, Local Motors also has a facility in Las Vegas.

What’s more, the time-frame for this building project is also quite strict. Local Motors plans on releasing a highway-ready 3D printed care sometime next year, and the idea is that this autonomous  package can be embedded into it. ‘This partnership with UNLV is an example of how Local Motors is using the power of co-creation to advance vehicle technology,’ says Corey Clothier, leader of the  automated vehicle development team . ‘We will begin selling the world’s first 3D-printed car next year, and we’re excited for UNLV to be a piece of automotive history.’

When that highway ready vehicle is created, UNLV and the other partners will be provided with early access to the iterations, offering students a fantastic opportunity to interact with the latest vehicle technologies. ‘Local Motors’ vision and realization of microfactories is truly exciting…it will yield bold innovations for inspiring wonder and empowering creativity,’ Pal Oh says in a statement. Doubtlessly, we will be hearing a lot more from Local Motors over the coming year.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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