You may remember watching spoofs of anti-piracy PSAs on Youtube in the early 2000s. You may have even been around when the first “You Wouldn’t Download a Car” image was created, lampooning these RIAA PSAs. A lot of people began discussing how exactly one would go about downloading a car, bringing up 3D printers and other methods of creating car parts from data.
Now, if you were so inclined, you really could download a car. Hack Rod is an up-and-coming manufacturing company that is trying to redefine the process of designing and producing personal vehicles. According to their website, they are trying to capture the “artistry and individuality of 20th century ‘Hotrodding’ and the rebellious, tech-savvy innovation of ‘hacker’ culture” in order to allow anyone to create their personal dream car.
How Hack Rod Got Its Start
The founders of this interesting new wave in vehicle technology are Felix Holst (former VP of the Creative division of Hot Wheels) and Mouse McCoy (motorcycle racer and film director). These two first worked together in the “Hot Wheels for Real” campaign that took place from 2011 to 2012. This involved sending life-sized versions of Hot Wheels down actual-sized tracks to recreate stunts from their youth. After they realized that they had the engineering and imaginative ability to pull these kinds of feats off, they began to formulate the initial idea behind Hack Rod. Soon, they contacted Autodesk (a computer-aided design company) for assistance in creating the CAD models they would need to print car parts.
How Does It Work?
Hack Rod will make use of innovative new methods in 3D printing and cloud manufacturing to create 3D-printed cars of any size or shape. The end goal of Hack Rod is to create a Cloud-powered, crowd-sourced, connected supply chain that will make use of artificial intelligence to help the user design a car that will fit their needs precisely. Eventually, the goal is to be able to log in, create your own car, and have it custom-built by the factory without leaving your desk chair.
This might seem like something out of science fiction, but the guys over at Hack Rod are slowly making it a reality. They have already designed an algorithm that will actively generate a new chassis design depending on the visual model that is sent to it. Because custom fabrication like this can often cost a lot of money, the company has begun looking into 3D printing instead. This is a cost effective method because it is additive, and thus any part can be created to exact specifications without the need for any retooling or further customization.
Case Study: La Bandita Speedster
The very first car that Hack Rod will produce will be the La Bandita Speedster. It is meant to show the world that a vehicle designed in mixed reality – that is, in a mix of virtual reality and the real world – can be viable for production. They are also pioneering AI engineering with their chassis construction program. If they are able to create a La Bandita Speedster successfully, it will prove that their concept works and could be used by customers.
So far, the Speedster exists only in programs and as an object in virtual test chambers. However, the ideal final result will have a 3D-printed shell for the body that has been customized by its future owner. The chassis, which has been actively designed by AI software, will also be 3D-printed. The exact set-up of the cockpit will be determined in VR, so that the future owner knows they will fit well and comfortably in their car.
The La Bandita Speedster will also have inboard suspension for optimum performance, while making use of a Tesla powertrain. We can expect these cars to be light on their wheels if they ever come to fruition. It remains to be seen whether custom chassis designs could pose any danger at high speeds or in performance-driving situations. Overall, the concept images they have of their car are pretty slick. And, if the experience of these guys has anything to do with the final results, they will manage to engineer a working solution at some point in the near future.
We hope that Hack Rod comes to fruition. Not only will it be great meme material – so you CAN download a car! – but it will also bring a new revolution in automobile manufacturing. Though these cars are likely to be very pricey, they will be 100% the user’s own. Driving around in a car that you helped design yourself could be a great ego boost, not to mention a good story. Be sure to keep up with these automobile pioneers.