July 12, 2012

DARPA META Project for highly adapable foundry style manufacturing of military vehicles

DARPA 2013 budget justification is out and it updates progress on DARPA projects. (336 pages) One of the best funded projects is program to enable military vehicle to be developed and built 10 times faster.

The goal of the META program is to develop novel design flows, tools, and processes to enable a significant improvement in the ability to design complex defense and aerospace systems that are correct-by-construction. The program seeks to develop a design representation of meta-language and a domain-specific component model library from which system designs can quickly be assembled and their correctness verified with a high degree of certainty. Such a "fab-less" design approach is complemented by a foundry-style manufacturing capability, consisting of a factory capable of rapid reconfiguration between a large number of products and product variants through bitstream reprogramability, with minimal or no resultant learning curve effects. Together, the fab-less design and foundry-style manufacturing capability is anticipated to yield substantial---by a factor of five to ten---compression in the time to develop and field complex defense and aerospace systems.

The META effort will also explore the initial design of a next generation ground vehicle by employing a novel, model-based correct-by-construction design capability, a highly-adaptable foundry-style manufacturing capability, and crowd-sourcing methods to demonstrate 5x-10x compression in the timeline necessary to build an infantry fighting vehicle. Beginning in FY 2012, the specific ground vehicle application work will be funded in PE 0602702E, Project TT-04, Advanced Land Systems.

Funding
FY 2011 $49 million
FY 2012 $56 million
FY 2013 $75 million




FY 2011 Accomplishments:
- Continued development and integration of supporting tools necessary to implement the model-based design, integration, and verification flows.
- Continued development of a foundry configuration toolset to enable the (re)configuration of foundry-style manufacturing capabilities for a given required degree of manufacturing adaptability.
- Exercised feedback loop between manufacturability constraints and the system design toolset.
- Continued development and testing of crowd-sourced design infrastructure for electromechanical and software systems for a next generation ground combat vehicle.

FY 2012 Plans:
- Mature the initial set of tools developed to implement model-based design, integration and verification to a productized version that may be released for open use with an appropriate license and will be utilized by the crowd-sourced design infrastructure.
- Develop a domain-specific component model library for the drivetrain/mobility subsystems and the chassis/survivability systems of a military ground vehicle through extensive characterization of desirable and spurious interactions, dynamics, and properties of all constituent components down to the numbered part level.
- Develop context models to reflect various operational environments.
- Develop a domain-specific foundry configuration for military ground vehicles.
- Begin the assembly and integration of foundry-style manufacturing capability for military ground vehicles.
- Develop and implement an infrastructure for publishing and maintaining detailed component models using the metalanguage construct to expand the design space for subsequent efforts to design and build a military ground vehicle.
- Develop a mechanism for the feedback of manufacturability constraints into the design and design tradespace exploration process.
- Develop and integrate a library of various fabrication processes and associated manufacturing elements, i.e., machines and techniques employed to produce the various constituent elements of the military ground vehicle.

FY 2013 Plans:
- Develop a domain-specific component model library for an entire military ground vehicle through extensive characterization of desirable and spurious interactions, dynamics, and properties of all constituent components down to the numbered part level.
- Finalize development of the foundry-style manufacturing capability for military ground vehicles.
- Utilize the iFAB foundry to fabricate the drivetrain and mobility subsystem winning design from the related challenge.
- Utilize the iFAB foundry to fabricate the chassis and survivability subsystem winning design from the related challenge.



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