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Executive Summary
Driven to develop a new class of automobile, the Vehicle Design Summit aims to create a 4-passenger, 200 MPGe, high-performance industry-standard car with minimal life cycle costs and wide appeal both in developed and developing countries.  Building off of a 9-week 24/7 design program in summer 2006 (in which four driving prototypes were built from scratch by an all-volunteer team of 55 student engineers), VDS 2.0 is recruiting up to 35 teams of university students to collaboratively develop the 2.0 vehicle (codenamed Vision).

It has been suggested that students are an excellent resource for unbiased R&D and innovation in the energy realm partly because they not obligated to any shareholders or limited by any proprietary agreements. Students are typically motivated by a blend of intellectual curiosity and passion for real-world tangible results developed in concert with other future industry leaders.  University teams the world over already work on custom plug-in hybrids, super-mileage vehicles, solar racecars, formula cars and scores of other complex problem-solving endeavors.  VDS proposes to create a meta-team drawing from the same creative drive that inspires such student teams to constructively compete. The eventual goal of VDS 2.0 is a single production-ready automobile developed in an open, collaborative environment.

Beyond the vehicle itself, we hope that the project will also develop a new type of collaboration infrastructure based on open communication channels, interactive design reviews, and a horizontal management structure.  We believe this will allow student groups and universities around the world to more easily and effectively work together, with faculty and industry support, on large sustainable design and engineering projects that have the potential to produce solutions applicable over a range of materials, industries, and geographic regions.  We also see this as an ideal way to develop strong engineers, scientists, and leaders for the future and an exciting opportunity for students to interact with their counterparts around the world in a very meaningful way.

VDS 2.0 is focused on vehicle design, because cars embody and impact a vast array of industries. The goal is to further develop our expertise in a wide range of areas related to the project and to form a permanent consortium of the VDS 2.0 member universities.  The collective expertise will enable the consortium to undertake engineering product developments aimed at increasing energy efficiency.  After the vehicle project itself, the consortium will be poised to take on problems of all types ranging from other aspects of transportation (e.g., freight services) to issues in construction, agriculture, and materials flows for industry. We hope to leverage collegiate design experience and expertise to craft viable and relevant solutions to these global challenges via global collaboration.

Perhaps the truly revolutionary proposition of VDS is its commitment to Public Domain release.  Just as global warming and resource depletion affect the entire human race, so too should solutions developed to mitigate those challenges.  Computer software evolution has benefitted greatly from the Open Source movement, successfully building a global community of attentive, technically expert, and end-user savvy programmers committed to improving products for universal use.  The VDS team is built on the same principles.  Leveraging top talent and enthusiasm from research universities to work on real-world problems in the context of their curricula, VDS is excited to enable students to lend a new voice to the global energy discussion!