People who are involved in DARPA’s FANG (fast adaptable next-generation ground) vehicle design program may not realize they’re interacting with a component supplied by a start-up based in Palo Alto, California. Embedded inside META, the web-hosted software accessible to all FANG participants free of charge, is the technology from CyDesign, a company founded by Serdar Uckun. Formerly a principal scientist at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and technical area lead at NASA Ames Research Center, Uckun has extensive experience in system engineering and complex system design. About a year go, Uckun decided to create a commercial version of the software he developed. So he set up shop about five miles away from Stanford University and lunched CyDesign. The new company’s product, CyDesign Studio, is gearing up for public release in summer 2013.
DARPA’s FANG project is a cloud-hosted project, in a manner of speaking. Participants who’ve signed up for the project access META — the official software tools for modeling, simulation, and collaboration — from a standard web browser. Similarly, CyDesign’s commercial software will be delivered over the web.
“For us, cloud is not a gimmick, not a marketing tool,” said Tom Stegmann, VP of business development. “It enables us to do things like massively parallel processing of simulation.”
Stegmann and his colleagues envision customers using CyDesign’s scalable cloud-hosted back-end processors to test tens, hundreds, or thousands of design variations. “Simulation doesn’t give you a definitive answer,” noted Stegmann. “The trick is to run a lot. In the results, you see a curve that tells you which ones are good solutions. If you’re off that line, it’s probably a bad solution.”
CyDesign Studio is set up so that your program requirements (for example, the desired MPH or fuel economy of a vehicle) will be part of the input parameters you use during your simulation, explained Stegmann. The simulation technology in the product is based on the Modelica simulation engine, also powering commercial products from Dassault Systemes, Maplesoft, and others.
But don’t call CyDesign software as a service (SaaS). Stegmann prefers “pay as you go” as a better way to describe the licensing model. You’ll pay based on usage. It’s not a pay-per-module licensing or monthly licensing; it’s closer to a comprehensive buffet table where you’re charged for the volume you consume, or a utility contract where you’re billed for the wattage you used. The billing calculation formula (which CyDesign isn’t discussing publicly) will be based partly CPU cycles, storage, and connect time.