Shell’s Eco-Marathon is a brilliant concept, bringing together teams of students from all over Europe who use their creativity and ingenuity to develop ultra-fuel-efficient vehicles. Vehicles are entered in one of seven fuel categories – petrol, diesel, biofuels, fuel made from natural gas (GTL), hydrogen, solar or electricity. The challenge involves doing ten laps of
Marcin Jakubowski built a tractor in six days. Then he told the world how to do it: he made the designs, the budget and an instructional video available free online. A farmer and technologist and the founder of Open Source Ecology, Jakubowski has identified the 50 most important machines required for modern life—from the soil pulverizer to the oven—and is working to make a prototype of a low-cost DIY version of each so that anyone anywhere can build them. “If we can lower the barriers to farming, building and manufacturing,” he says, “then we can unleash massive amounts of human potential.”
Check out Marcin’s TED talk for more details on this amazing project.
Marcin Jakubowki’s approach to this effort is an excellent example of looking at objects and processes and decomposing them into analogous pieces (i.e., the interchangeability of children’s building blocks is at the heart of using interchangeable parts across the machines).
The idea of being self-sustaining in a largely agrarian setting flies in the face of the industrial revolution. Perhaps it’s a vital strategy though to benefit those parts of the world struggling to function economically, providing a way to improve lifestyles. It seems the Open Source Ecology strategy is not so much about “back to the future” as “forward to our roots.”