Autodesk Gallery: New Hack Rod Exhibit


Head of Brand Project Management, Rey Ledda, recently set up a new exhibit is the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco. He sent out a write-up to all of the ambassadors. I decided to convert his write-up into a blog post. Thanks, Rey.

The Autodesk Gallery at One Market in San Francisco celebrates design — the process of taking a great idea and turning it into a reality. With about 60 different exhibits regularly on display that showcase the innovative work of Autodesk customers, the gallery illustrates the role technology plays in great design and engineering.

With regard to the new Hack Rod exhibit:


Chassis Frame

  • Manufacturing method: welding
  • Material: Chromoly (Chromium-molydenum Steel)
  • Dimensions: 12 feet by 7 feet by 4 feet
  • Weight: 300 pounds


Begun as a research project to investigate how new technologies can be applied to building a performance car, Hack Rod has evolved into the world’s first vehicle chassis engineered by artificial intelligence. The idea was simple: wire a car with sensors, put it through a punishing series of test drives in California’s Mojave Desert, and use that real-time data to improve the performance of the car.

170324_Hack Rod_hero_brochure

The result was some 20 million data points about the car’s structure and the forces acting on it, which were then plugged into Project Dreamcatcher — a generative design technology — and applied to a 3D model of the existing chassis.

Based on the data retrieved over repeated test runs and the evaluation of the software’s design iterations, a new prototype was developed—so, in essence, the car co-designed itself.

Chassis render_cleanup
Generative design software analyzed collected data to produce new design options, all optimized to achieve maximum performance and efficiency.

Because the complex forms developed with generative design can be difficult to manufacture using traditional machining (subtractive manufacturing like CNC), the team plans to use 3D printing (additive manufacturing) as a critical part of the fabrication process to further evolve the car design.

Coyote chassis_welding
In addition to custom-welded parts and already manufactured components, 3D printing will play a huge role in the fabrication of Hack Rod. It can handle the complex geometries created by generative design and doesn’t need to be retooled for every variation like traditional manufacturing methods.


As I mentioned in my Fabricate 2017 blog post, the way we design things is changing, and so is the way we make things. The two activities have always gone hand-in-hand. Now the way we use things factors into the process too. For more information, check out "Inside The Hack Rod, The World’s First AI-Designed Car" on Fast Company.

The Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco is open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. There is a guided tour on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm and a self-guided audio tour available anytime. Admission is free. Visit us.

Hacking is alive in the lab.