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Detroit 2.0: Motor City to Maker City

detroit_logo_335x121.gifMaker Faire Detroit opens this coming weekend at The Henry Ford in Dearborn. Our goal is to create a fun, family-friendly event and showcase talented makers from Michigan and aroundthe Midwest. I also think the event gives us an opportunity to consider ways that makers can be part of re-inventing Detroit from the ground-up. This Thursday, just before Maker Faire Detroit, we’ve put together a special program Can Do Camp to explore what makers are doing and what can be done.

One of the presenters will be K. Venkatesh Prasad, Technical Leader, Infotronics in the Research and Advanced Engineering Group at Ford Motor Company. At Maker Faire in the Bay Area, Prasad spoke about about Automakers 2.0, (see links below) which was the idea that there would be a new generation of people working on cars and thinking of the car as a technology platform.

Here is a brief sketch of Prasad’s ideas for a new Detroit that leverages its capacity for building physical things but also extends into a digital world where more of those things are connected.


What if Detroit’s capacity of factory spaces, automobile proving grounds, specialized manufacturing equipment and enormous intellectual concentration could get re-purposed and re-wired and be made available to auto “makers,” not just the Big-3 or the Big-6, but the “Small Millions?” Then the millions of us small or individual “auto makers,” inventors & doers, would have physical or virtual access to boundless tools, garages, talent, teachers — when and where they were needed. Detroit could become the desired destination of hobbyists, entrepreneurs and businesses big and small.

Detroit 2.0 is the re-making of the Motor City to become the cradle of a new generation of creativity built on shared space, shared toolkits, shared platforms and most importantly shared human intelligence, energy and zeal to create the next Great Lake of jobs, commerce, industry, and yes, education for the 21st century.

Detroit 2.0 is about making Detroit an exciting place for children of all ages and the maker in all of us (the auto maker). This program could host exchange or summer students from the world over. In addition to the in-classroom learning, these students would get unmatched access to a complete set of local resources, such as garage space, tool kits, computing platforms and senior mentors — to re-create themselves and to re-wire Detroit for the 21st century.

Detroit 2.0, through another lens, is the next big app of social-networks, only this time these would be cyber-physical social-networks. The individual auto makers, the small millions, could be anywhere, developing prototypes using computer-aided-design tools and their socially networked friends could be in Detroit. They could complete physical prototype builds, test them out in physical proving grounds before virtually shipping re-designed parts to a distributed Detroit 2.0 cyber-physical lab. Exciting mash-ups of data and human intelligence could yield the as yet unseen — high precision machines for everything, Green-X, Bio-X & Transportation-X to name just a few.

Prasad will discuss Detroit 2.0 at Maker Faire at 11am on Saturday morning in Anderson Theater at The Henry Ford.

For additional coverage of Maker Faire Detroit, follow these links:

I did a webcast with Prasad on the car as a technology platform. His Maker Faire Bay Area talk is available here on Fora.TV.

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