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U.S. Navy's New MMO Wants Your Energy-Saving Solutions

| 22 May 2012 17:35
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The Navy uses a lot of oil, and it needs your ideas to break the addiction.

While consumers are always worried about the rising cost of oil, the US Navy is far more concerned than the average penny-pincher. For years, the US Navy has been pushing new initiatives to reduce dependence on fuels, of which it uses some 33,000 gallons every ten minutes, according to Lt. Douglas Marsh of the U.S. Naval Institute. The Navy sees this as not only costly (even the smallest price increases are astronomical when scale is considered), but it also sees the finite nature of our primary fuels as a threat to its ability to operate at a moment's notice.

The Navy is so serious about this initiative that it's taking ideas from anyone, including you. As a means of crowd-sourcing interesting proposals, it's developed energyMMOWGLI, a title as descriptive as it is pronounceable. Built by the Office of Naval Research, the Institute For The Future and the Naval Postgraduate School, "MMOWGLI" is an acronym for "Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet." The Navy has used MMOWGLI before in an anti-piracy initiative launched last year.

energyMMOWGLI tasks players with considering both sides of the energy-use coin: efficiency and consumption. Players propose ideas in 140 characters or less. That idea is then sourced by players, who can expand, counter, or adapt it to a new situation. When an idea reaches a certain threshold, the creator and selected participants will be invited to develop action plans to see the idea implemented. To keep players hooked on the game, which will be running from May 22 to May 24, the developers have added leaderboards and achievements.

As ideas become more popular, players score points and their ideas become more visible. The ideas so far are wide-ranging, with people offering suggestions to use chemicals found in seawater, raise fish on-board to reduce the need to port for food, and use computers to plot the most efficient routes possible. Personally, I think the Navy can realize huge fuel savings by dumping the fleet altogether and replacing it with an army of rocket-equipped manatees. Some ideas are better than others, of course, but the value is in the conversation, right?

Source: mmowgli via Scientific American

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