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The LifeTrac Story 2012. from Open Source Ecology on Vimeo.

LifeTrac LifeTrac.png
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LifeTrac Tractor - Prototype III
Night time photography on LifeTrac IV by Parker 2012


LifeTrac is a low-cost, multipurpose open source tractor. It serves as a workhorse backbone for many of GVCS technologies. Prototype III stage has been completed, and field testing determined the need for Prototype IV prior to product release.

Featuring a modular design and detachable PowerCube units, it has the ability to rapidly switch between a variety of GVCS machines and/or Commercial Of-The-Shelf tools via the QA Plate. The machine is overbuilt with a focus on lifetime design and ease of repair.

Four hydraulic motors provide skid steer power to the wheels, and a chain tread system enables navigation of extreme terrain.

Join discussion at Hacker News - tractor discussion got the longest thread on Hacker News so far.


Latest version of LifeTrac as of Jan. 2013 is LifeTrac IV - with Quick Connect Wheels and Bent Loader Arms, where III had straight arms and non-detachable wheel units.


See LifeTrac Genealogy

Remote Repository

Lifetrac Github Repository

Distributed Collaboration

Distributed Collaboration is a way to manage the digital files that describe the machine in such a way that people all over the world can work together through the internet. The process is made up of three steps: definitions, projects and reports.

LifeTrac III Definitions The definitions are any files that specify what the pieces of the machine are. An experience fabricator would be able to make all the pieces from just these files.

LifeTrac III Projects The project(s) is a database that turns the definitions into steps which, if all accomplished, will result in a finished machine. At the moment, we're just using an existing project management program.

LifeTrac III Reports The report(s) is a polished document that compiles all the definitions and project steps together in a way that is easy to follow. Additionally, the report includes background, context and any other piece of information that is relevant to the machine but is not strictly related to making it.

Product Evolution

Use the Product Evolution tree below to learn about the different versions of the LifeTrac and how far they got in product development (shown in italics). Follow the arrows to see where branching occurs. The dashed outlined represents the most complete documented version to date and tested at FeF.

Major Design
LifeTrac.jpg Arrow right.jpg LifeTrac4 (v5) snip2.PNG Arrow right.jpg Lifetrac6.jpg
LifeTrac I
Prototype 1
LifeTrac 5 LifeTrac 6
Arrow down.jpg Arrow up.jpg
Skid Steer
LTIICompleted.jpg Arrow right.jpg LiftTracWithTracks.jpg Arrow right.jpg LifeTracIII bent arms.PNG
LifeTrac II
Prototype 1
LifeTrac III
LifeTrac IV
Arrow down.jpg
LifeCat 1.0.png
LifeCat 1.0

Safety Concerns

No structural engineering analysis has been performed on the LifeTrac III or IV. If you choose to replicate this product you are doing so at your own risk and with this understanding. We will be performing analysis soon and will post those results as we get them.

There is also an email to OSE Europe mailing list describing some concerns about LifeTrac safety of use, and points out possible issues with: Frame, Steering, Brakes and Roll-Over Protection.

Product Ecology

Product Ecology
From Uses Creates Enables



The Global Village Construction Set
Habitat CEB Press Cement Mixer Sawmill Bulldozer Backhoe
Agriculture Tractor Seeder Hay Rake Well-Drilling Rig
Microtractor Soil Pulverizer Spader Hay Cutter Trencher
Bakery Oven Dairy Milker Microcombine Baler
Industry Multimachine Ironworker Laser Cutter Welder Plasma Cutter
CNC Torch Table Metal Roller Rod and Wire Mill Press Forge Universal Rotor
3D Printer 3D Scanner CNC Circuit Mill Industrial Robot Chipper Hammermill
Drill Press Induction Furnace
Energy Power Cube Gasifier Burner Solar Concentrator Electric Motor Generator Hydraulic Motor
Steam Engine Heat Exchanger Wind Turbine Pelletizer Universal Power Supply
Nickel-Iron Battery
Materials Aluminum Extractor Bioplastic Extruder
Transportation Car Truck

Imprimante 3D Scanner 3D Extracteur d'Aluminum Pelleteuse Four à Pain Presse à balles de paille Extrudeuse à bioplastiques Bulldozer Voiture Presse BTC Betonnière Broyeur à marteaux Imprimante de circuits électroniques Table de découpe numérique Trayeuse Perçeuse à colonne Moteur électrique Gazogène Faucheuse Râteau à foin Moteur hydraulique Fourneau à induction Bras robotisé Poinçonneuse Découpeur Laser Laminoir à plaques Microcombine Microtracteur Multimachine Batterie Ni-Fe Machine à granulés Torche plasma Power Cube Presse hydraulique Laminoir à barres et fils de fer Pulvérisateur de terre Scierie Semoir Concentrateur solaire Roto-bêche Moteur à vapeur Echangeur de chaleur Tracteur Fraiseuse de tranchée Camion Alimentation électrique universelle Rotor universel Poste de soudure à l'arc Plateforme de forage de puits Eolienne

Key Design Planning Prototype Almost done Full Release