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Local Motors Forms LM Industries, “the First Digital OEM”

 Olli is the first self-driving vehicle featuring the IBM Watson platform. (Image courtesy of Local Motors.)

Olli is the first self-driving vehicle featuring the IBM Watson platform. (Image courtesy of Local Motors.)


It began as a small crowdsourcing company that let car customers come in and build their own vehicles and grew into an ambitious outfit that worked on 3D printing autonomous vehicles, through Local Motors, and crowdsourcing advanced projects for Airbus, HP and the U.S. Marines, through Launch Forth. Now, the team behind and Local Motors and Launch Forth have formed LM Industries Group, “the world’s first digital OEM.”

LM Industries, based in San Francisco, is “a technology-enabled manufacturer focused on mobility products.” To understand what this means, you have to look at its two subsidiaries, Local Motors and Launch Forth. Local Motors is responsible for developing what is meant to be the first highway-ready, 3D-printed car, as well as an electric, autonomous, 3D-printed mass transit vehicle called Olli. Launch Forth is a social media platform dedicated to crowdsourcing projects, both developed by the Launch Forth community and corporate partners. This includes a modular logistics vehicle and an unmanned cargo system currently in development for the U.S. Marines.

Under the broader LM Industries parent company, these two subsidiaries are working to change the way products are brought to market. These products are first designed with a crowdsourcing community, via Launch Forth, and then manufactured in small batches via Local Motors microfactories using technologies like 3D printing. In this way, the company means to challenge the sluggish and unresponsive world of mass manufacturing as it pertains to transportation, accessibility and mobility products.

“Mass manufacturing is a relic of a past era. We’re in the middle of a mobility revolt, where current modes of transportation are not sustainable and do not match up with rapidly changing consumer preferences,” said LM Industries CEO and Cofounder John B. Rogers, Jr. “We can’t keep producing products the same way we’ve been accustomed to. The world is moving too fast for traditional manufacturing to keep up. LM Industries is on a mission to transform mass manufacturing to micro-manufacturing in order to match the new pace of technology and quickly changing consumer needs.”

LM Industries has already established a number of high-profile partners. Global insurance company Allianz has teamed up with Local Motors to bring Olli to different cities, while the two businesses create new mobility solutions and associated insurance. In addition to Olli, Allianz and LM are developing an accessibility device that is meant to improve upon the classic wheelchair design with its inclusive design, customizability and upgradability.

Read more at ENGINEERING.com

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