Siemens and Hackrod: Collaborative Design, PLM, and Web 3.0

Hackrod has partnered with Siemens PLM to develop a new platform that eases barriers from bringing complex manufacturing ideas from concept to market.


Jul 12, 2019

You will soon see a revolution in design and manufacturing, if Hackrod has anything to do with it. The company has partnered with Siemens PLM and other companies to develop Autonomo, a platform that eases the barriers from bringing manufacturing prototypes from concept to market. 

Hackrod Autonomo uses gaming engines and virtual reality to create a new kind of collaboration, one that doesn't rely on geographical proximity or require multiple physical prototypes to bring a product to market.

In this video, Mouse McCoy, Hackrod CEO, discusses the rise of Web 3.0 or the spatial web, where people can use the internet in a more three-dimensional way. In the Autonomo app, for instance, individuals or teams scattered in different places can collaborate in real time on a digital twin of a product, designing and tweaking the model in a photo-realistic 3D environment. (Think Tony Stark and his hologram models in "Iron Man," and you get the idea.)

Artificial intelligence (AI) also plays a role, as it provides support for updating and improving the engineering file for the product as the team makes its tweaks. Then the finished design gets exported directly to an additive, 3D printing service without the need for physical prototypes. 

All this collapses the design and manufacturing cycle by a significant magnitude, and all of it can be done at small scale and low cost,  perfect for entrepreneurs, startups, and even students.

Mouse McCoy and his partner, Siemens, hope that Autonomo creates an eruption of possibilities for young entrepreneurs to realize their dreams industrially. He also sees exciting opportunities for reducing the carbon footprint, letting companies can send the digital twin to manufacturing plants in other countries to be produced locally, without having to import or export products across the globe.


This transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Tell us about your background

I started my career as a professional motorcycle racer. That's how I got the name "Mouse." I started racing when I was a little bitty kid.

Then from there, I moved on. To being a professional racer from a kid racer. The name stuck.

Then I transitioned into being a stuntman, actually, which was pretty cool because I actually got my 10,000 hours working in the film business with the best directors. I figured I could do that, so I jumped up to film director, producer, and became the CEO of a movie studio.

Michael Krigsman: You've had a pretty wild career.

Yeah, it's been a pretty wild ride.

What is Hackrod?

It's almost like a gang of hotrodders with industrial superpowers. Really, we wanted to create an environment where anybody with an innovative spirit like the old school hotrodders of America that really drove industry in the 20th Century, that young kids with that inspiration, that spirit, would have no barriers to entry to manufacturing, design, and build whatever they want in their dreams. We put together our first application called Autonomo, the automatic manufacturing opportunity, that's going to connect the gaming world to the events manufacturing world.

Michael Krigsman: You have to explain how that works.

We're moving into what will be known as Web 3.0. As you know, Web 1 was static pages and dial-up; we all remember the dial-up. You went to Web 2, which was broadband, cloud, and emerging technologies. It really opened up multimedia and the content phase, so obviously Netflix, Facebook, YouTube. It was all big applications of Web 2.0, but they were both flat worlds, a 2D plane.

Well, Web 3.0 or spatial Web is going to become three-dimensional. We are going to move into a full experience in 3D.

What is the relationship between Web 3.0, the spatial web, and gaming engines?

Yeah, everyone wants to talk Industry 4.0. You look at the diagrams, Accenture, all these dudes. They all forgot the game engine. Right now, gaming engines like physics engines are radically powerful and they're connecting thousands of kids in the cloud right now. I don't know how many million kids are playing Fortnite together. That's sort of the foundation.

Then if you put that game engine on top of, in this case with Siemens, their entire industrial portfolio stack, that gets really interesting. The gateway into Industry 4.0 is going to be through gamification. You're going to be able to have multi-person, multi-location full 3D, photoreal, VR collaboration that's tied directly to manufacturing.

Michael Krigsman: Games are constructing a virtual world.

Correct. We've all seen a lot of these movies right now, superhero movies, the Marvel movies. Tony Stark and Iron Man has this three-dimensional hologram world. Well, that's going to materialize in the game engine. We are going to see, through AR and VR, the ability to live in a photoreal 3D space, overall.

What we're doing is automating and connecting heavy engineering CAD or a digital twin, like a heavy digital twin, into the virtual environment to be a virtual twin so that we can go back and forth. You're going to be designing, playing, and collaborating with files that are ready to go to manufacturing because they're based on a real digital twin.

Are you building a digital twin in that 3D virtual world?

That's correct.

Michael Krigsman: Now we have this 3D twin and there's a collaboration element to this as well.

Correct. We had a fairly significant moment with Roland Busch, the CTO, COO of Siemens globally. He was in our studio. He and I were in a photoreal VR environment connected to his team in Princeton, New Jersey, from Ventura, California, and had a transcontinental, full-scale engineering and design review session in photoreal.

Think about that for a minute. Nobody had to get on an airplane. We weren't sharing old 2D files that you can't really understand. We were literally looking at what you thought was a physical product in a virtual environment together around the world.

Michael Krigsman: It's photorealistic.


How does the photorealistic virtual world work?

There have been some advances in GPU technology. Look at the work that NVIDIA is doing right now with what's called ray tracing. Literally, all the reflections, the ray trace, and the surface finishes is an exact replication of what the physical product is.

You feel like you're going to touch it. You'll be in the environment and you'll fall over because you thought you were leaning up against the car or motorcycle. It's absolutely photoreal.

Michael Krigsman: Now we've got teams, distributed teams or individuals from around the world collaborating inside the game engine working on this 3D model, photorealistic 3D model.


Michael Krigsman: Okay. What's next?

Exporting directly to manufacturing. We're not just playing a game. We're actually building and designing product in this environment. We have the first physical representation of a motorcycle that was designed, engineered, and printed straight out of the game. That was through multiple connected manufacturing partners at the same time.

I want to pull back for one second because it's pretty fundamental. We're talking about democratization of large industry. This used to be science fiction where you thought, "Oh, probably those Lockheed Martin guys have it or some high-speed military unit." Uh-uh. It's here today for the kids. This is going to really democratize the barriers of entry to design, engineering, and making things.

What was so significant is, we were able to collapse a design cycle by an order of magnitude from what was previously this 3D printing revolution. Okay, you can print actual prototypes and do your fit, finish, and all your review versus the old way of building clay models or whatever. That was a huge leap forward.

What we're doing here with the bike is, I would go into the photoreal. I looked at the bike and I said, "Oh, okay." You can see it completely in proportion. I'm like, "That fender is that much too short." My guys said, "Oh, it's that much too short." I said, "The rear one is too skinny." I said, "Great. See you guys tomorrow."

They remodeled it. I came back in and, inside of five minutes, I did the design approval for a massive print job. This was just unheard of and we literally did that.

Michael Krigsman: It allows an iterative, agile  type of design process that was previously impossible?

That's correct and we're also working now towards manipulating actual, fundamental CAD in the game and having it automate and export.

What technologies make the design-to-additive 3D manufacturing process possible?

Well, we definitely are going to be taking advantage of the GPU cloud. We're seeing an emergence of an entirely new GPU-based cloud. We're working with the Unreal Engine. Fortnite, all of that runs on it.

We automated engineering CAD or real digital twin. We automated the process of getting into the game. It used to be a very complex, manual process, overall, so that's amazing.

Then we're going to get into simulation of product in the game engine. We're going to go to computational fluid dynamics in the game. We're doing this right now and that also is correlated to AI engineering or what you'll hear as generative design or generative engineering. What's happening in the simulation in the videogame will, in real time, be updating and improving your engineering file with AI.

Michael Krigsman: What kind of data is necessary in order to construct these models?

Conventional CAD data, overall. Then we're working in a 3D Voxel Space for the printout, but we're starting with real engineering CAD and then going into the game, right now.

How is Siemens working with Hackrod?

They're such a dynamic, diverse company, overall, so full integration on the digital software side. But then, those files are going to go into manufacturing processes, so not just have the software capability but to go into digital factory and factory automation and really see the digital thread go from concept to physical product. They touch it on multiple levels.

Michael Krigsman: The technology backbone for the manufacturing side?

Correct, and they're really leading the way on the manufacturing integration to the digital side. I think that's what's so exciting for us about Siemens is their digital industrial connection is significant.

Michael Krigsman: Where is the motorcycle now?

It's either backstage or in the showroom, but it's here, physically. We actually did the prints with numerous partners but Oakridge National Laboratory, Department of Energy, National Lab has the most high-speed, advanced manufacturing facility in the world. They printed the gas tank out of aluminum-cerium, which is a total aerospace grade material. HP, our partners, printed a lot of the other composite parts on the motorcycle.

This was all distributed, but it was only two weeks ago that Oakridge said, "Hey, we have capacity. We want to support the project." Awesome, so we greenlit it two weeks ago. It went from, basically, concept design to full on and photoreal product to 3D printed, to onstage here in Orlando.

Michael Krigsman: Wow.

That's just a fact. We just did that out of the game and I'm pretty excited because everyone, for a while, said, "Oh, yeah, dude. This is total science fiction." It's science fact now.

You are building a collaborative design and manufacturing platform?

We have some significant automotive projects going on right now. We chose a motorcycle because it's a business model that's here today for cost, scale, and schedule. That was important that we weren't just showing futurist stuff anymore. We're actually not only physically executing, but we're showing a business model that's here today. This is rolling into the future of work and the new economy.

This isn't about disruption. Everyone wants to say, "Oh, God, disruptor, disruption." I want to see the eruption of possibility for kids with dreams to realize their dreams industrially.

To give you a case in point, I come from the motorcycle world and a bunch of my buddies are some of the best designers and they hand-draw. Then they hand-fabricate. Those kids take two months. They build one bike. They go to a motorcycle show. Everyone loves it. They sell one bike for good money. Then they start over.

They could now simply roll that into our environment. We'd scan their design right away, create a digital twin on the fly. Manufacturing ready. They have social media followings. They say, "Hey, everyone who loves this bike, who wants one? We're doing a run of one."

They no longer have to tool-up, make design decisions, raise venture capital, or build a factory. They get pre-orders. Those parts are built on demand. A couple of kids in a small motorcycle shop become a motorcycle company overnight. We're going to see that. That's going to be a reality.

Then you can go from there. Kids can start the next toy company, the next Hot Wheels out of their bedroom. Car companies, electric bicycle, you name it, there's going to be no barrier to entry to actually creating physical products.

Michael Krigsman: For you, it's not about creating a motorcycle. It's about creating this platform.

Correct. There was a film called Ready Player One and a great book that showed the concept of The Oasis. This was an open, infinite, digital world that you would go into. You would go into almost a second life.

Well, we think that The Oasis is going to happen and we're building an industrial application for it that thousands of companies could be born. It's built for entrepreneurs, overall, and large enterprise or small enterprise are going to be able to take advantage of it.

What are the implications of Hackrod for design and manufacturing?

When you're sitting in the same room having a conversation from the other side of the world on a full photo-real project, it's significant.

Michael Krigsman: I think a lot of people have experienced, for example, editing a Google Doc with another person. I was going to say, maybe it gives you a taste, but not really.

No, not at all. There are some other applied technologies that I think are significant. I mentioned we focused a lot on advanced manufacturing and 3D printing. What we needed was to solve what we were calling The Last Mile Problem. That is to go from your digital file to large-scale manufacturing.

You used to have to go to tooling. All of these really great, new business ideas or digital magic would always run into a brick wall. The digital thread ran into a wall when you had to go back to tooling.

You're an automotive startup; you're probably a couple hundred million dollars just to get out of the gate to tool up. Then you're required to have 10,000 of the same thing, manufacturing constraints, and all the constraints come in. then you're sitting on inventory and that's why it's known to be at least a billion dollars to clean sheet a car into production. That's just going to collapse.

What's happening right now is advanced manufacturing is here on a large scale, on an industrial scale. That's proven out this year. Our partners at Oakridge National Laboratory, they're printing a nuclear reactor right now. They just printed a submarine. It's wild, the scale, size.

Material science is all coming together. You're going to be able to simulate down to the molecular level with the molecular properties, force loads, stress, everything that it's going to go through. We think you're going to get there digitally, dramatically reduce the prototyping process, and then be able to output.

We're looking at a new age of metrology for additive manufacturing, so that's going to validate the print as it comes off. You'll actually know that that was a legit, perfect print; that there are not flaws inside of it. That was a problem with the additive manufacturing is you never knew what you had. Metrology is actually helping complete the digital twin and validate the build.

Michael Krigsman: It sounds like all of the components are maturing to the point where you've been able to create. It's essentially a prototype, your motorcycle. Would that be accurate or no?

It's production ready.

Michael Krigsman: Production ready?

Yeah, that's the thing. We never even built an intermediate. We went straight to an aluminum gas tank, composite fenders, number plates, all of it. I can hop on that bike and rip it right down the road. It's not a show bike. Those parts are ready to go. They're race ready.

Is scale the next step for collaborative design, rapid prototyping, and 3D manufacturing? 

That's correct. This concept of connected globally, manufactured locally, is super important. We're seeing scale, service bureaus, printing companies now deploy and start to fill that up. There are no more technological barriers in the way. It's just the business model to adopt. I think it's going to be really interesting, even large enterprise, for people to think about what does global trade look like and global manufacturing.

Part of the thought experiment that we ran with Roland Busch was, well, what happens if some kids in Munich see a file in this gaming world, a product that was designed in California? We're not going to manufacture it here in America or somewhere else across the Ocean and ship it. We're going to send the digital twin and that will be manufactured locally.

This is super important because I'm really not a fan of moving molecules around the planet and burning carbon to move stuff around. Let's have things be manufactured local, everywhere. It's a big environmental situation, I think.

Michael Krigsman: Do you have any sense of the timeframes required for this kind of technology? I really should say, set of technologies, to be more widely adopted and to have a broader impact?

We're rolling out right now with our open beta, focusing on a lot of the universities right now to actually go break the tools and use it. Those kids are really excited in the schools. They're saying, "Wait. What I love to do with gaming, I'm tying together with my engineering, and we're all playing." It starts to become fun to engineer, design, and build.

We're excited about that, and so you'll see a significant rollout. In the next few years, this is going to scale up, but it's here.

Michael Krigsman: Any final thoughts on all of this and especially on the impact on manufacturing, creating opportunities, and the future of work, as you were describing?

That's the most significant thing is that we're actually kicking down the barriers of entry for the next generation to be able to do whatever they want on an industrial scale. Before, if you say three kids in the garage start a social network, you're like, "Oh, okay. Yeah, Amazon Web Services. We saw that movie," right?

If you say three kids in a garage start a car company, "Eh," but we're saying that's going to actually become a reality. That's what's most exciting to us is the fact that we're going to give kids opportunity.

Michael Krigsman: Before we go, I just have to ask you for advice to younger people that are hearing this or hearing about these technologies. How can they get involved? What's the pathway for them?

The term Industry 4.0 is kicked around a lot, but we said, "How do you even get on the 4.0 highway?" Well, you're going to get in through open gaming worlds. The message is, believe the impossible is going to be possible and don't limit yourself with what you think you can achieve.

Published Date: Jul 12, 2019

Author: Michael Krigsman

Episode ID: 609