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= Open Source Car project

URL = http://www.theoscarproject.org/


"It is the goal of the OScar Project to develop a car according to Open Source principles. In our opinion, a car is not a vehicle full of high-tech gadgets. Instead, we are looking for a simple and functional concept to spread mobility. Form follows function.

Apart from that, OScar is not just a car. It is about new ways of mobility and the spreading of the Open Source idea in the real (physical) world. On this website, you will find a great community of developers and drivers who want to invent mobility anew and together.

The project started in 1999. In December 2005, it reached release 0.2."


"A wave of initial enthusiasm surrounded the project. However, activity diminished substantially in 2001. Merz managed to revive the project in 2005: apart from the core team of four people, around 100 enthusiasts were engaged in this project (i.e., they contributed to the project by making at least one entry within the discussion forum). From these 100 participants, 15 were very active, i.e., they added a high double-digit number of entries to the discussion forum." (R&D Management 39, 4, 2009)


Research on motivation of contributors:

"Perhaps the most important extrinsic motivation at the OScar project concerns the objective of developing an environmentally friendly car. This aspect not only was frequently mentioned by our respondents but also figured in the respective forums and manifesto. Closely related is the will to establish a community that incorporates people who share a common interest (cf. Lave and Wenger, 1991).

In contrast to the copyright philosophy that prevails in the automotive sector, participants were also stimulated by patent-free collaboration (OScar, 2006b).

Engaging in the OScar project is also considered to be beneficial due to the opportunity it presents for learning and developing novel skills and technical insights. This is predominantly based on the assumption that learning is deemed a collective accomplishment.

As for intrinsic motivational stimuli, OScar members claimed that they consider working for the project a creative pleasure, as participants feel challenged by demanding tasks that match with their respective skills.

Bearing in mind that cars are also dependent on their physical (in this case, virtual) appearance, esthetics are deemed important (cf. in a similar vein Kaiser et al., 2007). Although OScar can only be sensed via the developers’ screens, esthetic experiences are likely to be evoked by novel designs.

As noted above with regard to Wikipedia and OSS projects, there also seems to be a strong sense of belonging among members of the OScar community. Because of members’ shared interests and Is open source software living up to its promises objectives, the cohesiveness of the community is likely to be intense.

In the case of OScar, the contributors stated recurrently that they need a modular structure in order to develop the project simultaneously through separate initiatives. This aspect is also reflected in the few formal dimensions that guide the development of OScar: among detailed technical guidelines (e.g., the length of the vehicle ought to be 4 m), the car is required to be simple, sturdy, easily maintainable, and modular.

At the OScar project, various technical requirements also set the agenda for the contributors and may have prevented further engagement from others. For instance, the data and dimensions (e.g., tilted rear), as well as the performance (e.g., a maximum speed of 145 km/h), were specified beforehand.

Contrary to what is true in the OSS realm, for the development of tangible products, feasibility studies are inevitable. As for Wikipedia, this challenge has been tackled by offering a virtual encyclopedia. However, at the OScar project, the need for feasibility studies is essential. The car cannot be designed and tested without tangible test objects and phases, which we assume to constitute a severe hindrance."


Is open source software living up to its promises? Insights for open innovation management from two open source software-inspired projects. Gordon Muller-Seitz and Guido Reger. R&D Management 39, 4, 2009 375)

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