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Meet tomorrow’s weapon designer: you

Designing tomorrow’s war machines isn’t just for contractors anymore. The U.S. military will be looking at mockups submitted by the general public.

The U.S. military gets its fair share of criticism when it comes to efficiency, what with the million-dollar screwdrivers it tends to buy and so on, but one thing it is pretty good at is changing with the times. Unlike some industries (cough media cough), the military is doing a solid job of adapting to and taking advantage of technological changes.

One example of this is a current project from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that is looking to build better Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. UAVForge is a program that combines social networking, crowdsourcing and even video games in an effort to jump start the field. As the website states:

UAVForge is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic (SSC Atlantic) collaborative initiative to design, build and manufacture advanced small unmanned air vehicle (UAV) systems. Our goal is to facilitate the exchange of ideas among a loosely connected international community united through common interests and inspired by innovation and creative thought.

The project is taking submissions from the general public until Jan. 20, whereupon voting will begin on who has the best designs, with a $100,000 prize awaiting the winner. This is, of course, a far cry from the good old days, when the Pentagon would simply give Lockheed Martin or Raytheon a couple billion dollars to do it.

Here’s a video of the sort of thing the project is looking for:

The bottom line is, designing tomorrow’s war machines isn’t just for mega-contractors anymore. Grab yourself some CAD software, play some Call of Duty and get cracking!