Thursday, May 31, 2012

Makers and Defense

Last weekend marks the seventh year that we have attended the Maker Faire. During this time it has changed from a rag tag little show to an event with over 100,000 attendees.  The growth shows how the  Maker themes are becoming more mainstream.  Still, there was one talk at the MakerFaire that I did not anticipate.  Lietenant Colonel (LTC) Nathan Wiedenman, Ph.D. talked about the importance of the Make movement to national defense.  This fellow from DARPA describes how the technologies being developed by Makers can help the military and also make the world safer (go figure).  Normally it takes a significant amount of time to develop a new technology for the military.  The agile Maker community is much faster. Instead they have the raw materials to build just the parts they need when they need them.  Imagine a mobile force that doesn't need to carry every spare part they could possibly need. Imagine a developing country that can build their own pumps to create a safe water supply and avoid tribal conflicts over water.
DARPA has created some awesome challenges like the DARPA Grand Challenege and the DARPA Network Challenege.  They are just finishing up a challenge about quadcopters (you know we love quadcopters).  Who knows, the next challenge may be even more maker related.