In a departure from historic military R&D norms, challenge prizes become more popular, “pulling” great ideas to the surface, shortening the time to production and shrinking budgets.
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The Pentagon’s blue-sky researchers awarded $1 million in 2013 to a team of designers who built an innovative drivetrain for a Marine swimming tank. The winning three-person team was a group of engineers united for the prize money DARPA offered in the Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation Ground Vehicle (FANG) Challenge. In a sign of things to come, the impromptu collaborators used online design tools and open-source code to win the challenge.