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Local Motors DARPA Flypmode

Posted in Project Vehicles on January 1, 2012
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Local Motors is a young and innovative vehicle company. It was started a few years ago with the idea that a collaborative community of car designers, engineers, and enthusiasts could come together to create unique new-car designs. The concept would challenge the idea that cars and trucks are designed within a private company, and then presented to a detached buying public.

The front of the Flypmode sports an aluminum plate bumper and a full compliment of lights. Rigid Industries LED lighting is used to provide headlights, driving lights, turn signals, and infrared lighting for discrete nighttime use. High front fenders allow ample room to accommodate the 18 inches of front wheel travel.

Through the use of online design competitions and community member efforts, vehicles could be designed, and ultimately some see the fruition of production. Over the past year, Local Motors ( has chosen its first design, the Rally Fighter, for small scale production (approximately 2,000) and has begun producing them in its first micro-factory in Phoenix, Arizona. Most of the design is public knowledge. In fact, anyone can download the open source CAD chassis data and see the exact dimensions and configuration of the tube chassis.

Those efforts have caught the interest of many in the automotive world and they caught the attention of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This agency was established in 1958 to prevent strategic surprise from negatively impacting U.S. national security and create strategic surprise for U.S. adversaries by maintaining the technological superiority of the U.S. military. As an agency always looking for ways to improve our technology, DARPA became intrigued with the Local Motors open source concept and wanted to explore the possibilities of using community co-creation to advance defense designs more rapidly and economically.

The front suspension consists of a double A-arm design damped by 12-inch-travel Fox 2.5-inch coilovers, backed up by a set of Fox air bumps. Steering for the long-travel frontend is done using a Howe-built hydraulic-assist rack-and-pinion that is mounted in the nose of the chassis.

As such, DARPA partnered with Local Motors to birth DARPA’s Experimental Crowd-derived Combat Support Vehicle (XC2V). This was to be a crowd-designed prototype vehicle based on some specific conceived functions. Essentially, it was to perform tasks as a high-speed vehicle focused on combat resupply and medical-related evacuation.

Local Motors held a design submission process and received more than 150 design entries. The design of the Flypmode from Victor Garcia was chosen by community peers, and the crew at the micro-factory took it from plans to finished vehicle in under 14 weeks using the proven Rally Fighter chassis as a basis.

DARPA is interested in using this development strategy on upcoming work on its Adaptive Vehicle Make (AVM) programs to speed the design timeline and optimize cost considerations. DARPA is looking for ways in which a crowd-sourced design can bring together a multitude of community talents to yield a better end product.

We weren’t able to see the Flypmode in use off-road, but we’ve ridden in the Rally Fighter and can attest to its proficient handling in the dirt. We did get the opportunity to capture some images of the Flypmode the day it rolled out of Local Motors and before it was shuttled away to be shown to some of our defense folks, or tucked away in one of those secret government warehouses. Here’s hoping this new methodology allows us to tap ever deeper into American ingenuity to further assist our brave men and women in doing their jobs to preserve freedom for us all.

Quick Specs
Owner/Hometown: DARPA/United States
Vehicle/Model: 2011 Local Motors Flypmode
Estimated value: n/a
Type: Chevy 6.2L LS3 V-8
Aspiration: Factory fuel injection, dual catalytic converters, dual Spin Tech mufflers
Output, hp/torque (estimated): 430/450
Transmission: 4L85E four-speed auto
Front: Long-travel A-arms, 12-in-travel Fox 2.5 coilovers, Fox hydraulic bumpstops
Rear: Three-link with Watts link, 18-in-travel Fox 2.5 coilovers, Fox hydraulic bumpstops
Rear: Ford 8.8 solid axle, factory limited slip, disc brakes
Ring and pinion ratio: 3.55:1
Wheels: 17x8.5 Method Race Wheels
Tires: LT315/70R17 Goodyear Wrangler MT/Rs

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