Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cars and Sustainability meet at Monte Carlo

It has been 7 days since we have heard from our Vehicle Engineer and his blog, but he is back with a vengeance and the deep thoughts that would make Jack Handy stop and think! (Go with me, it is a SNL reference).

In his blog, Mike referenced the Art Center Summit from which he just returned, and I too wanted to call to light a concept which surfaced at the Summit.

When I referred to Monte Carlo, I was not talking about the famous casino but rather the computational algorithm that relies on repeated random sampling to compute its results. Monte Carlo methods are useful for modeling phenomena with significant uncertainty in inputs and that is precisely the point when one is thinking about the development of cars today. To me, this association made so much sense that I thought it deserved to be the subject of tonights blog.

(Just a little look at the famous Casino, where the simulation gets its name, and...... where there are always lots of beautiful cars.)

Take, for example, input domains in the following categories: policy, sociology, economy, technology, ecology, energy, and just random life events. These categories were part of a scenario and solution tool introduced by Art Center as part of its Mobility Vision Integration Process......which (drum roll) is a fancy name for laying out a number of factors in the development of a transportation system or vehicle architecture in order to make an informed "guess" about what a particular solution might look like.

Just as in a Monte Carlo simulation, the tool uses a number of random inputs in each category taken literally from a deck of cards in order to force participants to arrive at solutions when the 7 different variables are at work. What becomes immediately clear is that the range of potential events is so GREAT, that it would be impossible to predict with any certainty what the winning solutions would be or even if there would be a single winning solution.

Not being able to predict a winning automotive solution, makes Tesla, Aptera, Venture Vehicles, Phoenix, et al seem like they are hunting in a vacuum with a blindfold on. We believe that this uncertainty is likely to remain for many years, so it seems critical to create a business whose job it is work within and to celebrate this uncertainty. There are many right answers, and we know that it if we were restricted to one, then it would only take us a small part of the way.


These are all attributes which we have created at Local Motors in order to be responsive to the changeing categories.

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