One of the hugest proponents of innovation challenges has been the US military, and we've just uncovered a challenge sponsored by DARPA that's underway right now. The prize: USD$50,000. The challenge: devise an algorithm to reliably predict the strength of digitally manufactured objects based on a series of input parameters. Here's their description of the task:
DARPA will digitally manufacture several complex structures and then conduct a series of structural load tests upon them. Data from the manufacture and load tests will then be posted on this website. Participants will be challenged to develop a correlation model that accurately correlates DM machine inputs to output structural test data. Participant models will then be evaluated by their ability to predict the test results of the final DM structures. The model that most accurately predicts the final test results wins the Challenge!
Why do this? DARPA wants to reduce the cost of manufacturing by simply getting it right the first time, or at least increasing the frequency of that happening. Winners will be announced on December 6th.
We're hoping that some of the findings might eventually lead to improved 3D printer designs that can produce stronger objects.